Travel around the globe has been subjected to a tremendous shock due to the novel Coronavirus. The devastating effect of the novel coronavirus is still largely felt across the globe and the way we travel has largely differentiated from what it was. No exception with travel in Sri Lanka and we felt it during our recent 2 nights and 3 days on the Sri Lanka trip to Sigiriya and Kandy. We started Sri Lanka 2 nights 3 days package, a few days after the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions.
Sri Lankan government-imposed countrywide travel restrictions in mid-March, in a bid to control the number of Covid-19 patients in Sri Lanka. The Covid-19 restrictions were gradually relaxed in the month of May, and June and the country is back to normal by July. Same time the government have opened tourist attractions in Sri Lanka and hopes to attract foreign travellers to them in the near future. As the lockdown restrictions disappeared the local travellers started to move around Sri Lanka, which seems to be a reward for their dedication for their patience. Hotels around the island have also opened their doors to customers as the demand for accommodation gradually increased.
Sri Lanka receives the safe travels stamp from WTTC
Due to the successful campaign against the COVID-19 pandemic, Sri Lanka has been awarded the Safe Travels stamp for safety protocols from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
Sri Lanka as a leading holiday destination that is highly concerned about the safety of its visitors has adopted the safety protocols introduced by the WTTC without any delay.
Internationally recognized, the “Travels stamp for safety protocols”, is a certification launched by the WTTC, in order to recognize the safe holiday destinations around the world in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is highly trustworthy and provides a valuable opportunity for world travellers to find out safe holiday destinations to travel.
These protocols were established through the experience of the council’s members in tackling the pandemic and also taking into consideration the guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
Sri Lanka has absorbed standardized health and hygiene protocols, introduced by the WTTC, in order to make sure that future travellers of Sri Lanka will be safe on their Sri Lanka trips. Sri Lanka and Grenada are the 2 newest countries that received the safety travel stamp.
“The stamp represents a critical step in rebuilding consumer confidence in Travel and Tourism and allowing travellers to rest easy knowing that enhanced standards of hygiene are in place and they can once again experience ‘Safe Travels’,” WTTC President and CEO Gloria Guevara said.
Why post COVID-19 is the best time to travel in Sri Lanka?
I believe immediate post-COVID-19 period is the best time to travel in Sri Lanka due to many reasons as below.
- Supporting the people who work in tourism industry–The tourism industry is going through the worst period in history due to the impact of Coronavirus and more than half a million people are largely affected due to the travel restrictions. The government relaxed the travel restriction in order to revive the tourism industry and thereby normalize the lively hood of the people work in the tourism industry.
- It has never been so safe to travel in Sri Lanka- With the implementation of health guidelines issued by the medical authorities, it is safe to travel all around the island.
- Peace of mind on your Sri Lanka trip– If you are kind of person, who like to have peace of mind during the trip, this is the perfect opportunity for you to travel in Sri Lanka. Usually, most hotels and tourist places are very crowded in Sri Lanka but now you will not encounter hordes of tourist during the trip.
- Secure the best price for your Sri Lanka trip-I’m a frequent traveller and had travel under many conditions. I had travelled to many places in Sri Lanka even during the ethnic war but I have never seen such big discounts for hotel accommodations like now. The hotels have reduced their rates immensely in a bit to encourage the local travellers to hit the roads. You can stay in a 5* hotel at the price of 3* hotel that you usually pay for.
Sri Lanka travel with safety protocol in mind
The Government has instructed the hotel managements and sightseeing providers to uphold the safety protocols introduced by the medical authorities as a precaution to avert any possible fresh wave of Covid-19. We felt that a lot has changed since the end of lockdown restrictions, Sri Lanka travel has been changed a lot with the introduction of new health guidelines. During this Sri Lanka trip, we observed that all hotels, as well as staff working in tourist places, had properly embraced the health protocols while the guests are happily cooperating to implement the health protocols.
Sri Lanka 2-night 3 days trip
In this Sri Lanka 2-night 3 days trip we had planned 2 overnight stays, one in Habarana and another overnight stay in Kandy. We planned the tour with the first night in Habarana while exploring the important tourist places in the surrounding areas on day 1. We visited Ibankatuwa ancient burial ground, Dambulla golden temple on the first day of the trip and spent some time leisure in the afternoon.
We have omitted Sigiriya rock fortress, which is the champion of all tourist attractions in the cultural triangle, in order to make sure that we have plenty of time to relax. Trekking at Sigiriya rock fortress lasts about 3 hours and which is also a very tiring job. Sigiriya was not a very important tourist place for us because we had been to Sigiriya many times in the past.
We visited the Minneriya national park in the morning on the 2nd day. In the afternoon we visited the tooth relic temple while allocated some time for leisure in the hotels. We visited the tooth relic temple after breakfast on day 3 and left the hotel after lunch.
Sri Lanka trip in the backdrop of Coviod-19
This Sri Lanka 2-night 3 days trip was one of the best trips that we had on the island. In the backdrop of a large population around the world are still not being able to move around, Sri Lankan people are fortunate enough to travel within the country and enjoy their free days. All tourist places such as museums, cultural places, historical sites, national parks… all are fully functional with few changes in order to uphold the safety protocols.
Are you still afraid to travel to Sri Lanka?
Some people might be thinking of that it is not safe to travel to Sri Lanka and some people might be in doubt that they could be contracted with novel coronavirus during the Sri Lanka travel. We were also in doubt, ahead of our 2 nights 3 days Sri Lanka trip, if it was safe to Sri Lanka travel as the Coded-19 patients have not reduced to zero yet. It will take years before the number of COVID-19 patients reduced to zero, as per the virologists around the world. Therefore, we thought that there is no pointing of waiting until the number of Covid-19 cased go down to, in order to make our next Sri Lanka trip, it might take many years to happen it.
We thought of taking the chance and hit the road and venture of the Sri Lanka 2-night 3 days trip. The face masks had become a Nome when travelling in Sri Lanka like all other countries around the world now. Maintaining social distancing has also become a major point everywhere in Sri Lanka.
Even though we were a bit hesitant at the beginning if we had taken the right decision to set off on a Sri Lanka trip, soon we were convinced that it was totally safe due to the various safety protocols implemented in Sri Lanka.
The nature of Sri Lanka travel with Novel Coronavirus
Novel coronavirus has taught us a new lesson I believe, and it is reiterating the importance of the cleanliness. Now it is overwhelmingly convinced how useful cleanliness is to distance the novel coronavirus from the human.
The travellers need to clean their hands using soap and water or with disinfectants very often during the Sri Lanka trip now. E.g. if you visit 3 tourist sites you have to wash the hands 3 times, it is mandatory to wash hands at the entrance of each site. When it comes to hotel you clean your hands using soap water or using hand sanitizer a minimum 5 times each day. Starting from the arrival to after using the lift and upon entering the restaurant. At each time the guest enters the restaurant need to clean the hands and make sure the guests don’t carry the germs into the restaurant.
At the check-in, the hotel managements have taken measure to minimize the contact between the staff and the guests. Every guest needs to clean the hands with hand sanitizers upon arrival and the luggage are also disinfected. Everything in the room from water glass to shampoo bottle to teacup is disinfected and properly packed in safety covers. Each time you enter the restaurants the guests have to clean the hands.
Rawan one of then F&B staff of the hotel told me “After each meal, we have disinfected the entire set up in the restaurant. Earlier we did not do it, earlier we just rub the top of the table wet a wet cloth and arrange the setup for the next meal, now it is different. Sometime we disinfect the tables and chairs many times during the meal E.g. if we expect another group immediately after one group we have to disinfect the table and chairs before the second group come.”
Frequent temperature check is on the card on your Sri Lanka trip
Hand washing, temperature check and masks have become the norm for the travellers of Sri Lanka. As a traveller, you will visit many places such as hotels, tourist sites, restaurants, shops etc. At each and every place there is a temperature check and you are allowed to enter the site if your temperature is normal. In the hotel your temperature is checked many times a day E.g. your temperature is checked as you enter the restaurant for each meal.
Wearing masks is mandatory on Post Covid-19 Sri Lanka travel
Mask is mandatory everywhere except in the vehicle, the masks can be eliminated even for a short time only when you eat or drink something. I Believe it is a good habit to wear a mask now, even the WHO has recommended to wear a mask when you mingle with people’ as it reduces the contraction of novel Coronavirus by 80%. We had to sanitize the hands everywhere we go, and all facilities are for that. Most places where we stopped such as restaurants, shops, tourist attractions and hotel the visitors are given facilities to clean the hands and all are using them.
Travel in Sri Lanka has never been so complicated, regulated and secured before. According to the medical protocol adopted by the stakeholders of the tourism industry, there is no chance that someone would contract with novel coronavirus during the Sri Lanka trip.
We travelled in our own vehicle and no intruders travelled with us. However, if you venture on a group tour, Sri Lanka tourist board has introduced a setoff medical protocols that should be respected by the transporters. According to Jagath, who works as a freelance chauffeur/guides, “We are now free to transport travellers, all restrictions have been removed and tourist sites are opened. However, we have to do the regular temperature of travellers and same times maintain social distance. We have to provide hand sanitizers to the gusts as well. However, have not received foreign travellers since the march and we receive bookings only from local travellers.”
A large number of people, who are working in the tourist industry have lost their income for more than 3 months so far, a considerable portion of Sri Lanka’s workforce is working in the tourism industry, which estimated to be around half a million people.
Changes to Sri Lanka travel pattern with COVID-19
As we were venturing on the 2 nights 3 days Sri Lanka trip, we have noted that there is an acute shortage of visitors everywhere. All tourist places are largely empty and the hotels have been filled only up to around 25%. This is mainly due to the lack of foreign travellers. However, I must say this is the best time to travel in Sri Lanka, you can get hold of many opportunities while hitting the road right now. The three major benefits that one can secure while travelling now are saving money, safe and secured environment and avoid the crowd.
Avoid the crowd on the 2 nights 3 days Sri Lanka trip
Most tourist sites in Sri Lanka are crowded places, especially during the high tourist season from November op April. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, most tourist places have turned to empty spaces since March 17th. Even the lockdown restrictions are fully removed, I believe the local travellers still hesitate to travel, perhaps they might be thinking that it is not totally safe to travel to in the country due to the risk of contracting coronavirus.
I have been travelling in Sri Lanka for the last 20 years and never seen tourist places with a less crowd like these days. In most places there are only a handful of travellers, E.g. Dambulla golden temple and is one of the very popular UNESCO world heritage sites and you can see hundreds of travellers at any time of the day, however, these were only about a dozen of visitors in the temple on our recent visit.
Minneriya national park is one of the best places for wild elephant spotting usually draw a large number of travellers, therefore, many dozens of jeeps are crisscrossing the park, however during our 4 hours safari we saw only 2 other jeeps in the park.
Save money on your Sri Lanka trip
In the backdrop of low occupancy, most hotels have reduced their room rates and meal rates, which is a valuable opportunity for travellers, especially for local travellers to travel around the island while paying a fraction of the money they usually pay for. On the other hand, there are only very few travellers in tourist places and hotel occupancy is also very low, and it means that you can have a very peaceful holiday. However, I don’t think this opportunity will remain for a long time because as soon as the airport opens its door, foreign travellers will start to travel to Sri Lanka and hotels rates will increases automatically as the demand for accommodation increases.
Tourism is a very important industry to our country and it helps the island by pumping a large amount of hard currency to the island. At the moment the tourism industry is experiencing its worst time in history with very low occupancy. Almost every hotel that was pouring with travellers are now visited by very few travellers, therefore as local travellers, I believe that we can be an immense support for those collapsing business by visiting them, while travellers also can save a lot of money on their trip.