Awaiting green-light from health authorities to re-open borders

The tourism sector is awaiting health authorities’ green light to re-open borders for international tourists with safety measures in place.

“Tourism is a sector that can bounce back as soon as international travel is conducive. The industry is constantly facing challenges in a volatile environment. The Airport opening protocol is at its final stages. We are waiting for the approval of the Health Ministry. As soon as that is done, the announcement will be made to re-open airports for international guests. The decision is not mine but the Health Ministry has to give us the go-ahead, Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando said whilst speaking at the Ceylon Chamber’s Virtual Economic Summit yesterday (02).

Speaking further Fernando encouraged all visitors to download the travel app incorporated in the Immigration and Emigration online visa application, which is pending Cabinet approval.

” Version Zero of the travel app has been developed with funding from the UNDP. We are waiting for the Cabinet approval to include that in the immigration online visa form. The procurement has already started for the travel app which will include 5000 sites, google map, ticket purchases online, ability to rate, complain all that. We have created a comprehensive tourist information data base, which has like 4950 sites for cycling, camping, wild life etc.”

“The tourism industry was recently identified for the first time as an export industry and it was granted a VAT exemption. Sri Lanka received the safe travel stamp recently for the sound protocol implemented by Sri Lanka Tourism. An independent auditing firm KPMG was appointed for the safe and secure certification, which is conducted free of charge. The certification also includes a QR code. The guest is permitted to give feedback on the health and safety protocols,” she said.

“The promotion is of course critical for tourism. The new comprehensive global communication campaign has received the Cabinet Ministers approval this year,” she added.

Fernando further stated that over 60 hoteliers and 12 travel agents have received ‘Safe and Secure’ compliance certification to resume operations post-COVID-19.

“The domestic campaign will be launched. We have already selected the PR agency. The ‘Safe and Secure’ awarding certificate will continue and over 60 hoteliers and 12 travel agents have received the certificate. As I mentioned the global promotional campaign it is a long difficult process, but it has started. It is time to position Sri Lanka in the global travelers mind,” she added.

“The change in Tourism module, people say it started after COVID, but I think somehow the tourism module change started even before the pandemic.  It is necessary to brand the destination with segmented marketing in terms of experiences, not based on nationality. So we need to make a shift to that and that process have started. With the support of all stakeholders and all our citizens, Sri Lanka can achieve significant success in tourism,” she added.

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