SLTPB/SLCG Press Release with Q & A – The Australian government recently revealed our overseas travel ban will be lifted in mid-November. What restrictions are in place for international travellers entering Sri Lanka? – Issued by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau in association with the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Sydney
Press Release – Q & A for Travel Weekly
- The Australian government recently revealed our overseas travel ban will be lifted in mid- What restrictions are in place for international travellers entering Sri Lanka?
On 1st October Sri Lanka Tourism announced a relaxed, bubble free experience for fully vaccinated travellers. With no minimum duration of stay, travellers can apply for tourist visa online at www.eta.gov.lk. Tourists who have completed 14 days after the recommended doses of COVID-19 vaccination and arrive in Sri Lanka with a negative COVID-19 PCR Report within 72 hours of embarkation will be considered as fully vaccinated. Any vaccination type is accepted by Sri Lankan authorities.
Moreover, fully vaccinated travellers are exempted from obtaining the mandatory COVID-19 Local Insurance cover. However, travellers should ensure that they have a comprehensive travel insurance that will cover health and other expenses related to COVID-19. Fully vaccinated travellers if accompanied by not-vaccinated/not-fully vaccinated children of 12-18 years, pay for on-arrival PCR test at USD 40 per test. Travellers can pay for PCR test at the Ministry of Health approved laboratory established at Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) or any other MOH approved laboratory. Also, travellers can visit www.visitsrilanka.gov.lk to pay in advance. Unvaccinated children below the age of 12 are allowed entry into the country with no PCR test on arrival.
Travellers who have not received COVID-19 vaccination, nor completed the recommended doses of vaccination (not-fully vaccinated) and/or departed from abroad within less than 2 weeks of completion of recommended doses of vaccination will be considered as not-vaccinated or not-fully-vaccinated travellers. Travellers under this category will stay in the safety of the Tourism Bio Bubble until the completion of the 14-day period from the completion of recommended doses of vaccination for not-fully-vaccinated travellers (flexible bio-bubble) or the completion of 14 days from arrival for not-vaccinated travellers (full bio-bubble). Travellers are allowed to visit approved tourist sites and use all facilities of the hotel upon negative results of the on-arrival PCR test.
Travellers with a history of COVID-19 within the past 6 months and who are fully vaccinated or travelling to Sri Lanka after obtaining a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine recommended to fully vaccinate at the country of origin (E.g., Astra Zeneca / Pfizer BioNTech / Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Sputnik Light & etc.) shall visit Sri Lanka under this category. COVID-19 recovered travellers who are vaccinated, but not yet completed 2 weeks from the recommended doses of vaccination (not-fully vaccinated) can also visit under the safety of the Tourism Bio-Bubble and will be entitled for a shorter, flexible bio-bubble period at “Safe & Secure Certified L1’’ hotel/s.
More information on the protocol to be followed by the two traveller segments can be found on helloagain (srilanka.travel)
- Understand Sri Lanka has opened its borders already, who is allowed to enter (from which countries)?
Sri Lanka is open to travellers from all nationalities. We have seen a surge of interest in Sri Lanka after the announcement of the new entry criteria which has resulted in an increase in arrivals.
- As we prepare to open our borders, what can we learn from Sri Lanka’s experience in opening back up?
Sri Lanka Tourism initially started welcoming travellers back with the airport re-opening in January 2021. In the last ten months the most valuable lesson learnt is the importance of being able to adapt to constant change. The current environment is extremely susceptible to changes in protocols depending on external environments not within the control of authorities, however we have re-designed strategies along the way and our offering, due to the many hurdles that we have faced and the vision remains the same. We are working with our internal and external teams to ensure that Sri Lanka Tourism hits all our desired milestones along the way.
- What can travellers expect from Sri Lanka as a destination once travel is safe again?
With close to 60 % of its population fully vaccinated, Sri Lanka is open and ready to welcome back discerning travellers. The Island destination offers travellers everything from pristine beaches to untamed wilderness, the highest concentration of waterfalls in the world, misty mountains, and an inexhaustible list of natural wonders. All this is swaddled in a rich and diverse culture, with a riveting history that very much adds to the island’s allure.
Sri Lanka was predominately promoted for its sun, sand and sea offering and while we will still continue to promote this area we are strategically looking at promoting unique experience Sri Lanka has to offer. Our water-based activities, tea tourism which includes the hill country experience, wellness tourism, culture, heritage, cuisine, ancient traditions, national parks and wild life and our people are all differentiating factors. The fact that a traveller can experience all this in one compact island is unique, and this cannot be found anywhere else in the World. We have also recently introduced long term visa for Digital Nomads, to promote “work from your own tropical paradise concept.”
- Has the Sri Lankan economy suffered from the lack of tourism? Has the tourism industry seen any bounce back or regrowth?
Like most other economies around the world, Sri Lanka too was severely impacted by the pandemic. Tourism is the third largest foreign exchange earner in the country. Sri Lanka recorded its highest ever number of arrivals in 2018 with over 2.3 million tourists coming into the country. It is estimated that the sector earned around $4.3 billion in 2018, 11 percent more than previous year. In 2019, contribution of travel and tourism to GDP (% of GDP) for Sri Lanka was 12.6 %. Looking at these figures, it is apparent that the lack of tourism to the country for a period of over nine months had an adverse effect on the economy.
With the relaxing of protocols for fully vaccinated arrivals into the country month on month we are seeing an increase in our arrivals. In the month of September, we received a total of 13,547 tourist arrivals into the country which was the highest arrivals figures the country has seen post Covid. Arrivals were up by 167% compared to August. The increase in arrivals are largely influenced by relaxed travel restrictions, aggressive vaccination programs globally and growing consumer confidence. India, Pakistan, Germany, UK and Russia among top source markets to Sri Lanka.
- How affected was Sri Lanka by the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of health? (Have case numbers reduced?)
The Government was aggressive with implementing controls with the onset of the pandemic which greatly assisted in controlling numbers. Once the vaccines were available, a robust vaccination drive was implemented which ensured the safety and security of the communities as well as assisted in the initiatives taken to open up Sri Lanka for Tourism and welcome back tourists.
With close to 60% of its population fully vaccinated, the Island has seen a reduction in case numbers which has resulted in the country being able to be fully operational. As with all other countries around the world at times there are emergency healthy protocols which are implemented to ensure the safety of the people however largely most areas of the economy are fully operational.
- Is Sri Lanka a good option for travellers who would like to ease back into overseas travel? Why?
Sri Lanka is perfectly positioned to attract the post Covid traveller with its wide-open spaces and a multitude of nature-based experiences. Sri Lanka Tourism has true potential to attract the experiential traveller and is positioning the country to showcase the wide array of experiences available.
With the many lockdowns throughout the world due to the pandemic, people have been restless and when the opportunity arises for travel, recent research shows that the trend is to travel big. Travellers are gravitating more towards that “big idea” or “bucket list’ trip while maybe doing fewer trips per year however when they do travel they will invest the time and money in long haul travel and staying in one destination for longer periods of time, in excess of 14 days. In addition people in general are embracing the ‘work from anywhere’ concept with the only requirement being a good wifi connection. We as a destination are positioned well to promote the “work from your own tropical paradise’ concept.
Sri Lanka Tourism also recognises that Wellness Tourism is a growing market with huge potential and are working to position the Island to cater to the demand of this high yielding segment.
Sri Lanka ticks all the boxes and more when it comes to post Covid travel and it is envisioned that it will continue to see the momentum it has over the last few months.
- What do travel agents need to know to effectively sell Sri Lanka as a destination?
Sri Lanka is blessed with many unique experiences; swimming with giant turtles, lounging on a yacht while watching whales and manta rays swim by, exploring ancient kingdoms, taking part in a traditional paddy harvest or mining for your very own precious stones are some of the many experiences. Due to the compact nature of the island all of these experiences and many more can be experienced within a relatively short period of time which is what makes Sri Lanka truly unique.
Post Covid travellers are looking for places to explore and re-connect with them selves and nature. Sri Lanka, blessed with abundant flora and fauna, wildlife, serene beaches, friendly people, amazing food and authentic experiences will offer everything and more to the traveller seeking peace and a sense of freedom. The Island has emerged as a destination where travellers have a desire to look beyond the superficial elements and explore more the authentic experience-driven route. Accommodation ranges from the larger chain hotels, luxury boutique, and villa properties to tented safari camps and colonial mountain escapes.
The Island is open and eager to welcome back visitors and the easing of entry protocols makes it the perfect getaway destination. While fully vaccinated travellers can enter with minimum protocols of a PCR test 72 hours prior to embarkation, non-vaccinated and partially vaccinated travellers have also the opportunity to travel within the safety bubble. More information on entry protocol can be found on helloagain (srilanka.travel) . The Island is an experiential treasure trove, excited to be re-discovered.
Issued by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau in association with the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Sydney