Speaking during a press briefing in Colombo yesterday (21), Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Chairperson Kimarli Fernando said, "The cap for the arrivals is based on the PCR testing capacity.Tourism is not going to encroach or take away the PCR testing from the local citizens who are returning."
She added that the daily allocation for tourists is 2,500.
That will be monitored by the Civil Aviation authorities. From the perspective of tourism, hoteliers and travel agents, you don't need to worry about the 2,500... Our senior officials will handle that from their side, she said.
Airlines will be instructed to handle this number.
Although no specific target had been set, about a million tourists was a possibility for 2021, based on the daily ceiling of 2,500 passengers, Fernando further said.
- 75 visas issued ; cost concerns
The Department of Immigration had issued 75 visas on the first few hours of January 21 for tourists, from America, Germany, the Middle East and China, Ms Fernando said.
Fernando also noted that though there were concerns over upfront costs, this was required due to present health protocols.
Sri Lanka Tourism has negotiated a price of 7,500 rupees per test from private hotels. Tourists also have to take a 12 dollar Covid-19 insurance cover of 50,000 which will cover the cost of ambulances, a hospital stay or in the worst case funeral costs.
- Normalcy in 6-7 months
Speaking at the event, Tourism Minister - Prasanna Ranatunga said that tourist arrivals will return to normalcy within a period of six to seven months.
He noted that discussions will be held in this regard with health authorities, yet reiterated that a final decision pertaining to outbound travel has not been reached yet.
He also said that all international airlines that flew to Sri Lanka prior to the coronavirus pandemic, have consented to continue operations.