MIAMI – Last week, Sri Lanka reopened its borders to the world after an almost 10-month closure to fend off the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press conference, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Tourism Prasanna Ranatunga highlighted the impact of the pandemic on the tourism industry both for the economy and the people of Sri Lanka, as well as the urgency to reopen to international markets.

In 2019, the South Asian island country generated more than US$3.6m from its tourism industry by hosting almost 2 million visitors. 2020 saw Sri Lanka face a downfall of 99.8% of arrivals in December. The last international arrivals recorded were from last April.

While tourism is clearly vital for the country, this reopening to the world will be highly different.

Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways

The introduction of a Bio-Bubble Policy    

To control the spread of the virus, Sri Lanka has introduced a “Bio-Bubble” for inbound travelers containing the following COVID-19 protocols:

  • The requirement of a negative result for a CPR test taken up to four (4) days prior arrival.
  • The number of visiting days requires two or more tests.
  • The first seven (7) days upon arrival, visitors have to stay at government authorised hotels/resorts and the cannot leave at any time  
  • Those who test positive during their stay will be isolated to their rooms 
  • Deny the entry to travellers who spent up to two weeks in Britain

As for the airlines, officials did not specify if more will expand their networks to include Sri Lanka. At the moment, Qatar Airways (QR), Emirates (EK), as well as other airlines, operate repatriation and transit flights, although the 3-star flag carrier Sri Lankan Airlines (UL) continues its limited flying schedule.       

Featured image: Erwin Eslami/Airways