Tourism Chief caught unawares about Ukrainians’ jaunts to Mirissa, Yala

Monday, 4 January 2021 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando has admitted in writing that she was unaware of the visiting Ukrainians’ trips to Mirissa and Yala, two of the popular sights for foreigners. 

Her lack of knowledge was conveyed in writing to Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga on Saturday and that Sri Lanka Tourism had found out about the visits only via media.  “Through the media, we came to know that a group of tourists from the Ukrainian arrivals went on excursions to Mirissa for whale watching and Yala,” Fernando wrote. 

She said the agreement at the Task Force Meeting was for the tour organisers to provide Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) detailed itineraries in advance, including details of the drivers and guides who would be involved in these excursions, to be relayed to the regional health authorities for screening and quarantine purposes.

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Director-General has tried to obtain the necessary information in this regard from the travel agents to no avail.

“We have heard that private boats are taking the tourists for whale watching and 28 safari jeeps would be taking them inside Yala,” Fernando said. 

“However, to this moment we have not received any of the above information from the promoter of this project nor the travel agents concerned. We are gravely concerned and seek your urgent intervention as when we requested information it was informed that he is working with the Presidential Task Force,” she added.

Fernando also expressed the hope that that the Presidential Taskforce has informed the health officials and COVID Task Force in this regard and that the necessary protocols are being followed.

“It is, as you know, expected that all details related to excursions are provided to us before the commencement of such tours to enable us to keep the Ministry of Health and COVID Task Force informed,” the Sri Lanka Tourism Chief wrote in her letter.