Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga
The Government yesterday introduced 12 hotspots for foreign travellers to visits during their stay in the country, whilst directing officials to strictly adhere to the health and safety protocols outlined.
Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga in a special meeting yesterday directed officials to take immediate action to prevent a recurrence of the situation that has arisen due to Ukrainian tourists visiting the Yala National Park and stressed that the health guidelines introduced for tourists should be strictly implemented and monitored by all relevant institutions, including Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA).
The Minister made these remarks at a special discussion held yesterday to evaluate and discuss the pilot project and the issues that have arisen in this regard. Representatives of the COVID-19 Task Force, health authorities, travel agents organising the tour of Ukraine, representatives of the hotels, officials of state institutions responsible for cultural sites and tourist attractions, Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa and State Aviation Minister D.V. Chanaka also joined the discussion.
Ranatunga emphasised at length on the problems identified so far in the pilot project and added that such problems should not arise after formally opening the borders for international travellers by the end of this month.
It was also decided at the meeting to provide the companies that are looking to bring tourists to the island a new set of guidelines to be implemented after formally opening up borders. These will be finalised by today (5).
Accordingly, the 12 tourist hotspots could be only visited by the travellers after all their mandatory PCR tests are negative. The 12 tourism sites include; Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (Dalada Maligawa), Yala National Park, Minneriya National Park, Sigiriya, Dambulla Temple, Udawalawe, Horton Plains, Sinharaja Forest, Peradeniya Botanic Gardens, Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, Whale watching and Salusala — the State-owned handloom enterprise. The Minister said that the SLTDA should coordinate the visits of tourists to those places and instructed to take further action in accordance with the health guidelines to prevent the contact of tourists and the general public in these sites.
Ranatunga directed the officials present to disinfect all the sites in collaboration with the health authorities in the area.