Sri Lanka to welcome back tourists, but with strict rules

COLOMBO (AFP) – Sri Lanka will re-open its borders to foreign tourists this week after a 10-month hiatus, officials said yesterday, with travellers subject to tough COVID-19 protocols.

The announcement came despite a surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths, as authorities sought to revive a once-lucrative tourism sector devastated by the deadly 2019 Easter bombings and the pandemic.

“Every precautionary measure has been set in place to make the island getaway as safe, secure and serene as possible for visitors,” the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau said in a statement, with borders due to open on Thursday.

Under the protocols, tourists will be allowed to stay in 55 designated hotels – off limits to locals except for staff – across the country.

Visitors will be required to produce a negative result from a PCR test taken up to four days before their arrival.

They must undergo two more tests for a visit of up to seven days, and three tests if they stay for more than a week.

Tourists are also required to fork out USD12 for insurance that will cover up to USD50,000 in COVID-19 related medical costs.

For the first two weeks of their visit, they will have to be accompanied by officials when travelling to designated tourism spots.

File photo shows dancers performing during the Kandy Esala Perahera Festival in Sri Lanka. PHOTO: XINHUA