Colombo: The Sri Lankan government has lifted the ban on Indian nationals entering Sri Lanka.
Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said that giving priority to the health guidelines, fully vaccinated tourists from India and several other countries would be allowed to enter the island nation.
“Tourists from India are welcome to visit Sri Lanka and we are making arrangements to allow them to enter the country following strict health guidelines,” the minster said.
However, Ranatunga said that only those Indian nationals who have received both doses of Covid-19 vaccine would be allowed to go around the country.
Those who have received both doses of vaccine can go around the country after obtaining a negative RT-PCR report, he said.
However, Ranatunga said that tourists who have not received both doses of vaccine would be allowed to enter the country, but would be placed under a tourist bio-bubble.
“Tourists who have not received any dose of the vaccine can visit 22 tourists places, including wildlife sanctuaries and cultural, historical and Buddhist religious places. They would be placed under a bio bubble,” he said.
The minister also said that plans are underway to start flights from Trichy in Tamil Nadu to Colombo.
“We have not stopped any flight from India. It was due to the pandemic that we had stopped allowing anyone coming through India,” he said.
On the direction of the Sri Lankan health authorities, all arrivals from India were stopped from May 6 due to the surge in Covid cases.
Earlier this week, Sri Lanka’s Cabinet had announced granting of three-month visa for tourists through the immigration office’s online portal. Tourism promotion authorities had been pushing for ‘digital nomad’ visas for long-term tourists.
A key foreign income earner for the island nation, tourism was one of the worst-hit areas due to the pandemic.
In 2018, Sri Lanka had earned an all-time high amount of $4.4 billion from tourism, while globally recognised company Lonely Planet had named the country as the No. 1 travel destination for the year.
Despite the Easter Sunday suicide bomb attacks in April 2019, Sri Lanka earned $3.5 billion from tourism that year, which dropped to just $682 million in December 2020, owing to the pandemic.