Tourist arrivals by end October? | Daily News

Tourist arrivals by end October?

The government is tentatively planning to open up the airport to tourists by the end of October. A cabinet paper has been submitted by the ministry of tourism and the head of the COVID taskforce Shavendra Silva confirmed that they are seriously considering the implications.

The Tourism Authority and Ministry are considering various factors including the state of COVID-19 in the tourist’s home country and whether their domestic policy allows them to travel for leisure. The Baltic and Russian regions are expected to be the initial arrivals.

Silva said “we can’t expect to see large flows in the near future. We need to consider who will be our customers.” Silva noted that the country is unlikely to host large tour groups or backpackers. The likely travellers will have to be long-stay small groups with private transport and at smaller establishments.

The opening in October is expected to be limited to 100 tourists. The opening will facilitate the capacity testing of the safeguard systems. Silva said, “stakeholders throughout the supply chain should be prepared with safety measures.”

Silva was speaking as the keynote speaker at the 49th Ceylon Hotel School’s Graduate Association on 19 September at the Taj Samudra.

The COVID-19 task force has been put under pressure by the head of the SLTDA Kimarli Fernando to open up to tourists given the plight of the sector.

The task force, however, has put the repatriation of stranded Sri Lankans abroad as it’s major priority. The country had already brought back 25,000 people and the goal was subsequently increased to 52,000 people of which 38,000 have already come through the quarantine procedure.

Silva noted that initially hotels were reluctant to act as quarantine centres but now they are actively seeking the business which has longer occupancy periods.

Sri Lanka was able to contain the COVID-19 1st wave in 50 days and the second wave in 10 days. Silva called for the active communication of the government’s success to bolster confidence in the country’s tourism offering. Silva called on for more local tourism to bolster confidence. Tourists will have to submit their entire itinerary of travel while applying for a visa.

Tourists will be subject to PCR tests before and after they arrive. The country is not expecting large flows as the 3rd wave of COVID is currently hitting the major inbound markets. Countries that have attempted to open through travel corridors and travel bubbles have had to close again and as such policymakers are cautious.

Hotels and other establishments will have to have applicable COVID-19 health certification as set out by policy to accept tourists.