Sri Lanka announced its reopening to foreign tourists since Jan 21. The long pause has cut deeply into the Indian Ocean island nation’s lucrative travel industry, SF Chronicle reports.
The government said that full operations also resumed Thursday at the Sri Lanka’s two international airports, accommodating the commercial flights.
The new health protocol is stricter, all travellers obliged be tested for the virus in their country 72 hours prior to their flight, when they arrive at their hotel in Sri Lanka and again seven days later.
Additionally, tourists must stay in a “travel bubble” designated in 14 tourism zones without mixing with the local population. About 180 hotels have been earmarked for tourist accommodations across Sri Lanka.
For Sri Lanka’s treasury, tourism is a vital economic sector that generates about 5% of its gross domestic product. Moreover, the touristic industry is employing 250,000 people directly and up to 3 million indirectly. Since Jan 21, hotels, other businesses and their employees faced crippling income losses.
Over 10-month-long pause, Sri Lanka had fewer than 4,000 cases of COVID-19 infection. As of Thursday, it has confirmed more than 55,000 cases with 274 fatalities.