Update on 05/06/2021
The tropical island Sri Lanka formerly known as (Ceylon) lies just south of the Indian subcontinent, near the equator. This tropical nation is welcoming millions of travellers every year. The flourishing tourism industry of Sri Lanka was hardly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and tourist arrival to its shores plummeted to an all-time low during 2020.
However, Sri Lanka has become the crew changing hub during the Covid-19 pandemic and ship crews from various part of the world are arriving in Sri Lanka to board their ships. These ship crews are subjected to a minimum of 14 days compulsory quarantine period, which takes place under the purview of government medical officers.
Some of the hotels in Sri Lanka has been given permission to offer the 14 days quarantine leisure holiday package for interested travellers. About 3 dozen of tourist hotels (level-1 hotel) in Sri Lanka has been permitted to accommodate foreign travellers, who fulfil the basic requirement to land in Sri Lanka, the travellers can book these hotels through travel agents or directly with the reservation departments of the respective hotels.
During the quarantine period, the travellers are not able to leave the hotels but they are free to move within the hotel premises, they are also free to use all the facilities and amenities available in the hotel. During the 14 days period, the travellers have to sit for 2 PCR tests. After completion of 14 days in the level-1 hotel, if the travellers are free of Covid-19 symptoms, they are given permission to move around the island and visit tourist places.
Update on 02/03/2021
Quarantine free post-COVID-19 holidays in Sri Lanka
Reopening the borders of Sri Lanka for foreign travellers, Sri Lankan tourism authorities have given permission to local tour operators to offer quarantine free holidays to foreign travellers. However, the travellers should have taken both COVID-19 insulations at least 14 days prior to visit the country. The guests who have received both vaccines can also roam freely without additional quarantine regulations.
The travellers who had not received both vaccines at the time they visit the island should follow the earlier introduced procedures during the holiday in Sri Lanka.
- Relaxed new protocols allow free movement within bubble
- Minimum stay requirement scrapped
- Bio-bubble created to allow site visitations
Sri Lanka will offer the “quarantine-free” experience to foreign tourists when the country opens its airports this Thursday for commercial flights, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) said.
Accordingly, the SLTDA has published a more relaxed set of safety protocols for visitors, which allows them to explore the island nation with fewer restrictions. The authority said the safety protocols have been approved by the Health Ministry and also streamlined in consultation with the sector stakeholders to “ensure a smooth transition to begin operations in the midst of this new normal”.
While the previously proposed minimum stay requirement has been scrapped, tourists will be able to move about freely with minimum restrictions. “Visitors to the island can stay even three to four days. Sri Lanka also offers ‘quarantine-free’ visitor experience, where the visitors are allowed to enjoy all facilities in their respective hotels, including the swimming pools, spas, gym, etc.,” the SLTDA said in a statement.
According to the renewed protocol, the only requirements the tourists must satisfy to enter the country are to have a negative PCR test result from an accredited laboratory 96 hours before departure and need for the travellers to stay at a ‘Safe and Secure’-certified, Level 1 hotel or hotels, in the initial 14 days of their stay.
The hotels, which are certified COVID-19 ‘safe and secure’, will not be allowed to accept bookings to hold any events or banquet functions for locals.
“This ensures the creation of a bio-bubble for the international visitors, assuring the safety of the local communities, employees of the industry and the visitors to the industry,” the SLTDA said. The SLTDA emphasised that the respective hotels and accommodation providers, along with the travel agents and tour operators, would be entrusted to ensure that the visitors don’t break the bubble of safety. To facilitate safe movement to tourism sites, the SLTDA said that together with the industry stakeholders, a bio-bubble has been created to allow international visitors to explore multiple sites and attractions in Sri Lanka.
The sites include places such as Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Yala, Udawalawe, Kaudulla and Wilpaththu National Parks, Mirissa whale watching, Sigiriya Fortress, Anuradhapura (excluding ‘Sri Maha Bodhiya’) and Polonnaruwa, among others.
The SLTDA reiterated it would take every possible step to provide international visitors “an amazing time” while ensuring their safety and providing a safe and secure operational environment for the service providers of the tourism industry.
It added that adequate measures have also been taken to ensure that the local communities are protected and secured as well.