Tourism stakeholders at the event. Picture by Thushara Fernando
Sri Lanka will continue accommodating tourists as the pilot project involving the Ukraine Tourism has brought out positive results.
At a special press conference hosted by Tourism Stakeholders at Ramada Colombo yesterday, Tilak Weerasinghe said that though there were minor issues which were ironed out almost instantaneously the project was successful and thanked the organizers for their initiative.
Weerasinghe said that Sri Lanka is now ready to take the next step and are welcoming tourists who would be accommodated in 101 pre-registered and approved hotels mainly in the Southern province.
The airport too will soon open its doors for passenger traffic which will allow this pilot project to be extended to other European countries as well.
He, however, said that since there is a minimum 7-day compulsory quarantine process within the hotel for guests, this will likely shun away Indian, Chinese and Japanese tourists since their travel patterns were shorter. (less than one week.)
He said that each hotel will have to be free of local guests and functions and only 75% of the total room strength would be given out leaving the rest for medical teams and emergencies.
Hiran Cooray said that he was invited for a virtual World Tourism forum by WHO where the participants expressed shock that Sri Lanka was still closed for tourism when 158 countries including Maldives (which is already reporting 75% Occupancy) were opened for tourists.
“Over 10% of the population in Sri Lanka depend on tourism and the decision by the government to open Sri Lanka for tourism maintaining health guidelines is timely.”
Meanwhile, Asoka Hettigoda from Siddhalepa Resorts representing the Ayurveda sector said herbal treatment is now considered as one of the best ways to be immune from the COVID-19 pandemic and hence there is a great demand from the European tourists to visit Sri Lanka. The biggest advantage is that these tourists do stay for over 14 days for treatments.”
“This matter was brought even to the notice of Foreign Ambassadors and to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and he is keen to promote this concept.”
The Outbound travel agents said that they are faced with a very bad situation and the outbound market has shrunk from 5 billion revenue to 1 billion and appalled from the government to reactivate the outbound travel market.