SL records 1,682 tourist arrivals after airports re-open


Sri Lanka registered 1,682 tourist arrivals in January airports resumed flight operations following a nine-month suspension since March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to officials.

On Tuesday, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) officials said out of the total number of tourist arrivals, 87 per cent were from Ukraine, reports Xinhua news agency.

The other tourist arrivals were from India, Belarus, China, Russia, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, the Maldives and the US.

“The figures reflect the unprecedented health, social and economic crisis caused by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Globally, international tourist arrivals plunged by 74 per cent in 2020 over the previous year with the travel restrictions imposed by almost all the destinations since the month of April,” the SLTDA officials said.

On January 21, the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in Colombo resumed flight operations.

The government has expressed confidence in attracting 1.5 million tourists this year, while staying in line with Covid-19 health and safety guidelines.

Tourism authorities have created an online information portal and a 24-hour operational centre, with which tourists can have access to support and information updates via phone or e-mail.

Sri Lanka currently has a PCR testing capacity for 2,500 tourist arrivals per day.

Tourists will have to purchase insurance and pay for their own PCR tests.

Currently, there is no quarantine period or minimum stay set for visiting tourists.

The Bandaranaike International Airport and the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport in the south are currently open for scheduled and chartered flights from at least eight airlines including the island nation’s flag carrier SriLankan Airlines.

As of Wednesday, Sri Lanka’s overall coronavirus caseload and death toll stood at 70,235 and 365, respectively.