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SL transit hub for Indians

Sri Lanka has become a transit hub for Indians visiting other destinations like West Asia or Singapore for instance, prior to which they need to be quarantined for 14 days.

“Some countries accept quarantine in Sri Lanka as an entry requirement to their country, where direct arrival for the origin country is not permitted. This is a reflection of Sri Lanka’s health and safety regulations,” Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) has stated in a new set of regulations issued on April 24 for international arrivals for the purpose of 14-day quarantine enroute to other countries.

In this respect, travel agents are looking at promoting this type of travel to Sri Lanka that is faced with a dearth of tourists as the tourism industry has been shut-down for nearly 10 months last year and saw a slow revival. Hotels have moved onto providing healthcare and quarantining facilities for Sri Lankans until lately.

The new regulations have been brought in mainly targeting Indian travellers as more use this new route to enter other destinations as a result Sri Lanka is catering to this new demand by certifying Level 2 hotels to be used only for these visitors.

The regulations state that Level 2 hotels will be exclusively for the said category and not be permitted to take other international or domestic bookings.

Tourists need to strictly adhere to insurance, PCR testing etc., and all other health guidelines as detailed for Level 1 hotels continue to be applicable for these hotels as well.

The guests will be confined to their rooms and will not be permitted to use common facilities at any stage and even meals should be delivered to the room, it was noted.

Drivers, guides or any staff interacting with guests must be in full PPE, the regulations state adding that these regulations are applicable irrespective of being fully vaccinated.

Moreover, the regulations note that travel agents and hotels taking such bookings will be responsible to ensure the departure of such guests from the country at the end of the 14-day quarantine period, it was stated.

Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga told the Business Times said that currently they were permitting Indians to travel to Sri Lanka under these regulations.

He noted that this was in view of the fact that Sri Lanka has become an acceptable destination for Indians to seek quarantine facilities prior to proceeding to destinations like West Asia and Singapore.

Currently this facility is being used only by Indians as Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are banned from travelling overseas, he noted.

Meanwhile, the Minister said the authorities were still “working on” the new Tourism Act that is set to replace the existing Tourism Act of 2005.

“We have asked all stakeholders to give their opinions and give suggestions and only after that a discussion paper will be presented,” he said. The private sector has expressed opposition to replacing the existing Tourism Act.

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