The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) President Sanath Ukwatte in a statement yesterday thanked the Government for taking all steps necessary to encourage foreign visitors to the country.
Speaking after meeting with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday, Ukwatte said the President ensured that all health guidelines for visitors will be designed in a way to encourage more tourists to visit the country without compromising the safety of the nation during this pandemic period.
The industry welcomed the move and thanked the Government for allowing British Nationals to visit the country after removing the temporary restrictions. United Kingdom has one of the most successful mass vaccination campaigns, and already over 15 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
“As UK is the single largest market to Sri Lanka from Europe, the industry is optimistic that from the beginning of August/September there will be a surge of traffic out of the UK,” THASL Chief said.
He said the industry is hopeful that the Government will consider shortly its request to allow visitors who have been vaccinated to enter the country without the mandatory two weeks quarantine. Already, countries which have vaccinated more than 50% of its population are allowing visitors to enter their countries without being quarantined. President Rajapaksa informed that the Government has a target to vaccinate the entire population by August this year.
Ukwatte said the Government is also in agreement to provide a chain of rest and recreation facilities around the country for the comfort of tourists who are visiting various identified tourists sites around the country on pre-arranged tours under the ‘bio-bubble’ concept, where tourists are not allowed to have any contact with the local community other than the approved personnel under strict health guidelines during the initial 14 days of quarantine.
Sri Lanka has won praise as one of the few countries where tourists are allowed to enter and enjoy the country’s attractions within the mandatory quarantine of 14 days under a bio-bubble concept.
THASL thanked the President and the Government for all the encouragement given to the sector and is upbeat that tourism will bounce back in the coming months to come. The tourism industry is the second largest net foreign exchange earner to the country prior to the Easter Sunday attacks and gives shelter to over three million livelihoods both directly and indirectly.