SriLankan to explore new destinations | Sunday Observer

SriLankan to explore new destinations

24 January, 2021

SriLankan Airlines will fly to new destinations starting with Moscow around mid next month as the demand rises in the travel sector, Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga on Thursday told the media in Colombo at an event to mark the re-opening the country for foreign visitors.

Sri Lanka opened borders on Thursday for international travellers after a ten-month closure of airports to curtail the spread of the killer virus.

“We are optimistic that the industry will re-bounce soon as a concerted effort has been made by all stakeholders of the industry to revive and regain the growth momentum of the lucrative industry while adhering to healthcare protocols and processes,” the Minister said. The number of visitors dropped drastically last year with around 30 percent slump from March to June during the first wave of the pandemic. However, tourism industry officials are optimistic that the industry could notch around 1.5 million arrivals this year if everything goes well. Sri Lanka Tourism has been aiming at around 2.5 million visitors a year for the past decade since the end of the battle against terrorism in 2009. However, due to the absence of aggressive marketing and the delay to launch the global tourism promotional and marketing campaigns, the number of arrivals has not reached the expected level and the country’s potential.

The national carrier, according to a senior official of the airline, has resumed flights to Frankfurt which was stalled for some time losing a key destination for tourism.

Around 1,500 travellers from Ukraine visited Sri Lanka since the launch of the pilot project on December 28 last year to recommence tourism bringing in a revenue of around USD 420 million.

According to Sri Lanka Tourism officials around 35 airlines which stopped operations during the height of the pandemic are willing to resume flights.

“Having the logistics and the fullest cooperation of everyone in the industry I am confident the tourism industry will be back at its best within six to seven months,” the Minister said.

Key highlights of the revival process are that Sri Lanka does not need a minimum number of days to stay and offers ‘quarantine-free’ visitor experience where visitors could enjoy facilities in their hotels including the swimming pool, spa and the gym.

New guidelines include mandatory PCR tests and insurance cover. However, the only requirement in place for the safety of travellers, tourism stakeholders and the local community is the need for travellers to stay at a safe and secure certified level 1 hotel or hotels during the initial 14 days of their stay to ensure the creation of a bio-bubble for foreign visitors assuring the safety of the local community and employees of the industry.

Sri Lanka tourism has set up an information portal -, which will carry notices, updated safety protocols, marketing materials and contact numbers.

A 24-hour operational centre has also been set up to coordinate operations.

“We have taken the maximum precautions to ensure the safety of all travellers and are ready to welcome travellers to the island again,” Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando said.