The dawn of the new normal of tourism has come upon us with new sets of rules and regulations sets by governments of various countries,
According to an article on CNBC by Monica Buchanan Pitrelli, Sri Lanka has reopened its borders with a unique set of rules according to Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson, Kimarli Fernando. The “new concept” developed by the tourism authority allows tourists to travel the country in “bio bubbles” or let the travelers to do sightseeing in Sri Lanka without mixing with the local population.
According to an article on CNBC, the rules apply for the first two weeks of their stay.
The “Bio Bubbles” allow holidaymakers to move around the island as long as they:
- Stay in approved hotels
- Visit approved sites at specific times
- Travel via independent transportation
- Undergo frequent Covid-19 testing, and
- Refrain from intermingling with the local population
According to the safety booklet published by Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Tourism, after the initial two weeks in the “bio bubble”, tourists are allowed to interact with the local community and reside in their chosen hotels or guesthouses.
According to the article from CNBC, there are 98 certified “Level 1” hotels that tourists can choose to stay in during the “bio bubble”. The hotels are located in various tourist hotspots such as Bentota, Galle, Kandy, Colombo, Hikkaduwa, Yala, Dickwella, and more. Additionally, tourists are allowed to use the hotels’ facilities including the beach.
Meanwhile, the article also mentioned that hotels are to operate at 75% of capacity with the remaining 25% are for COVID-19 patients. This option is only available to those without symptoms. Infected travelers who display COVID-19 symptoms must isolate in a private hospital.
On the other hand, Hotel staff who are in direct contact with guests are not allowed to leave the hotel during a guests’ stay and for 14 days thereafter. And, unless they are outfitted in full personal protective equipment (PPE), Sri Lankans who come into contact with tourists — such as tour guides and drivers — must quarantine for 14 days after a tour ends.
As for the places that tourists can visit, The list of places where travelers are permitted to go include some of the most famous attractions in Sri Lanka, including Sigiriya Fortress and the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. Yala National Park and the whale watching tours near the town of Mirissa are also on the list. Advanced planning is required for all outside trips, including stops for meals and bathroom breaks.
However, Dambulla Cave Temple and the 16th Century Galle Fort are restricted for tourists.
According to the article, travelers into Sri Lanka must undergoat least two Covid tests, and possibly more, depending on the length of their stay.
Covid tests are first required within 96 hours of departure, and again upon landing in Sri Lanka. Those staying longer than five days must take a third test, and anyone staying more than two weeks must take a fourth test.
Children under 12 years old are exempt from testing, unless they become symptomatic or are a close contact of an infected traveler.
Travelers must also apply for a visa prior to departure. Before doing so, tourists must make hotel bookings, purchase a Covid-19 insurance policy ($12) and prepay for Covid-19 tests ($40 each).
Currently, visas are not being issued to people who have been in the United Kingdom two weeks before entering Sri Lanka.
On Feb.15, Fernando from Sri Lanka Tourism told CNBC that 3,820 people had arrived since the country reopened on Jan. 21.
“In comparison to the first two to three weeks of arrivals to Maldives in July 2020, our arrivals are slightly higher,” she said.
Fernando said the travelers have come from Germany, Russia, Ukraine and expatriates living in “GCC countries,” referencing the Gulf Cooperation Council member countries of Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
She added that Sri Lanka is awaiting a “bubble agreement” to start flights with India, too.
Sri Lanka started a vaccination campaign in late January. Fernando told CNBC that health officials will start vaccinating all employees in the tourism industry “within the next few weeks.”
Based on an article written by Monica Buchanan Pitrelli, published by CNBC.Com
Pictures credit to Getty Images