After a 10-month lockdown, “the pearl of the Indian ocean” will finally open its borders to international travelers, but there’s a catch—only 2,500 tourists can enter the country each day. Tourists from all countries except for the United Kingdom will be allowed, as a new flight ban has been implemented to prevent the spread of the new COVID-19 variant.
Kimarli Fernando, chairperson of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, said, “As we open our doors to the world once again, we have pulled out all the stops, ensuring that every precautionary measure has been set in place to make the island getaway as safe, secure, and serene as possible for the visitors.”
To enter Sri Lanka, incoming travelers have to take a pre-departure PCR test up to 96 hours prior to their flight, as well as submit a health declaration form before boarding or upon arrival in Sri Lanka. To prove that they’re free of the virus, travelers have to fork out US$40 per PCR test (for up to three swab tests depending on the length of stay) and US$12 for mandatory COVID-19 insurance coverage of up to US$50,000, valid for a month.
Travelers are also limited to staying at 52 properties certified as Level 1 hotels under the country’s Safe and Secure scheme, which they’ll have to book in advance for. Used exclusively by foreign visitors during the first two weeks of their visit, these hotels are located outside of tourist destination Colombo and include properties under well-known hospitality brands like Anantara, Cinnamon, Heritage, Jetwing, and Taj. Following the pre-departure PCR test, a second PCR test will be conducted on the fifth to seventh day, and a third between the 10th and 14th day for those staying more than a week.
Within the country, travelers have to adhere to the country’s “bio bubble”, which will give them a relative amount of freedom to travel while observing safety protocols. In the hotel, guests can freely use facilities like pools, gyms, salons and restaurants. Outside of the property, they’re allowed to visit 14 approved tourist sites in allocated time slots including, Kandy’s Temple of the Tooth, the rock fortress of Sigiriya, Yala National Park, and the whale-watching spots at Mirissa.
Only after the 14-day period is up, can travelers be able to meet with locals and move into their choice of accommodation.
More information here.