Briefing today on new health protocols to all tourism stakeholders

Monday, 11 January 2021 00:17 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Sri Lanka Tourism invites 22 national, provincial and area-wise associations 
  • Detailed update on new COVID health and safety guidelines to follow when country opens in a fortnight 

By Charumini de Silva

With two weeks more for the re-opening of the borders for international leisure visitors, Sri Lanka Tourism will today undertake a massive awareness session on new COVID-19 health and safety protocols to all industry stakeholders.

The initiative is as part of a series of meetings for the key tourism industry stakeholders to create awareness about the health protocols and guidelines that need to be followed when reopening the country for foreign tourists and the way forward of Sri Lanka Tourism. 

Given the urgency of the matter, Sri Lanka Tourism has invited representatives from over 20 industry associations for two separate briefings in groups. 

The morning session is scheduled for hoteliers and tour operators, and six members each from 

The Hotel Association of Sri Lanka (THASL), Association for Small and Medium Enterprises in Tourism (ASMET), Sri Lanka Association for Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO), and the Travel Agents Association of Sri Lanka (TAASL) will attend this briefing. 

In the afternoon, 18 industry associations have been invited, with three members each for the dedicated briefing. 

The stakeholders for the afternoon briefing are 1) Sri Lanka Institute of National Tourist Guide Lecturers Association/SLINTGL, 2) Chauffeur Tourist Guide Lecturers Association of Sri Lanka/CTGL, 3) Negombo Tourist Hotels Taxi Association, 4) Sri Lanka Tourist Transport Employees Association, 5) Sri Lanka Bus Association, 6) Yala Jeep-owners Association, 7) Independent Safari Jeep Association, 8) Tissamaharama, Independent Safari Jeep Association, 9) Udawalawa, Yalagama Jeep Society, 10) Kadirapura Safari Jeep Society, 11) Lanka Tourist Drivers and Assistants Association, 12) National Tourist Drivers Association, 13) Tourist Drivers Unity, 14) Mother Society Jeep Safari Service Habarana, 15) Polonnaruwa Safari Jeep Owners Association, 16) Sri Lanka Sancharaka Niyamaka Subha Sadhaka Sangamaya, 17) Save the Yala Jeep Drivers Association, and 18) Dambulla Tourist Service Providers Association.

All the country’s international airports in Katunayake, Mattala and Ratnapura will be opened for international visitors formally from 23 January as the Government is keen on resuming tourism, thereby expediting its support to improve the economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Last week, the Health Ministry approved a comprehensive set of guidelines to resume international tourism in a COVID-19-safe environment from 23 January in order to formally reopen borders to welcome the first batch of international tourists and commercial flights post-COVID.

The new guidelines were released on Wednesday by the Health Ministry, approved by the Ministry Secretary Asela Gunawardena. Health and tourism stakeholders have been working around the clock for weeks to put final touches to the guidelines, whilst rectifying all the shortcomings of the pilot project.

The key features in the new guidelines include no minimum stay; mandatory COVID-19 insurance cover for one-month worth at least Rs. 5 million; and the certified hotels being allowed to host guests from multiple flights.

All PCR tests post-arrival should be arranged by the hotel with a private sector laboratory approved by the Health Ministry, whilst the movement of the guest should be restricted to a minimum until the on-arrival PCR test result is negative. 

It will be mandatory to pay for two PCR tests if the visit is up to seven days or three PCR tests if the visit is over seven days, as decided by the Medical Officer of Health (MOH).

There are a host of other requirements in the extensive and comprehensive guidelines issued by the health authorities last week.