Sri Lanka to open doors for Indian tourists | Daily News

Sri Lanka to open doors for Indian tourists

Three-wheelers, tour guides to get the green light
Lanka tourists too could travel to India
The Ministers, AASL and CAA. LSR and Aitkin Spence officials at the event. Pictures by Sulochana Gamage.
The Ministers, AASL and CAA. LSR and Aitkin Spence officials at the event. Pictures by Sulochana Gamage.

Sri Lanka would be able to complete the COVID-19 vaccination process in three months to all the vulnerable groups (56% excluding children, pregnant mothers etc.) making the country the first in the world to achieve this target. This is at a time when 130 countries have not even started the COVID-19 vaccination process.

“This would be a major marketing tool to open Sri Lanka for tourists which we will certainly exploit,” said Minister of Tourism Prasanna Ranatunga.

“We want to ensure that the C-19 does not spread to the community from tourists and the vaccination process will certainly help us achieve this. After this is done we will open the entire country for tourists and bring back the ‘dollars’ again to the economy. ”

Ratatunga was speaking at a media conference after welcoming the inaugural flight of Astana airlines Kazakhstan. The flight touched down with 169 passengers and is now starting charter flights to Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport every Saturday. Ranatunga said that already over 2,600 tourists have arrived in the last 10 days to Sri Lanka.

The Minister also disclosed that until such time the C-9 vaccination process is complete Sri Lanka Tourism will open the country for Indian tourists under strict health guidelines. India was the largest tourism market for Sri Lanka and the ministry is keen to revive it. “We have also got successful feedback from India not only for this but also for Sri Lankans to travel to India under the proposed bubble concept.”

“In a bid to share economic benefits from tourism to lower ranks of stakeholders we have also decided to allow pre-selected three-wheelers, chauffeur drivers as well as tour guides to offer their services under the global ‘health bubble’ concept to the tourists soon.

He said that smaller hotels too have been invited to register with ‘Safe and Secure’ process with Sri Lanka Tourism to accommodate tourists but he feels that most still prefer to carry on their banquet, F&B and other businesses for entertaining locals.

“Following successful examples of other countries we will also allow tourists to ‘travel freely’ after 8 days of stay and also eliminate the compulsory 10 and 14 day PCR tests regulation as well. “This is because the WHO has said the C-19 infectious period is 7 days.”

He also thanked Lanka Sportreizen (LSR), for their efforts in convincing Air Astana to add Sri Lanka as their latest destination and Aitken Spence Travels for bringing this first group from the world-famous TUI international when the C-19 pandemic is still at its peak.

State Minister for Aviation and Export Zones Development, D. V. Chanaka said that February 6, 2021, was a ‘red-letter day’ for aviation as Air Astana became the first new airline after many years to launch flights to Mattala.

Air Astana, the flag carrier of Kazakhstan at MRIA.

Some of the Kazakhstani guests at MRIA.