The government of Sri Lanka has announced that it has reopened its borders to foreign tourists for the first time in 10 months following an entry ban to contain the spread of COVID-19.
On January 19th, 2021, the chairperson of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Kimarli Fernando, announced that Sri Lankan borders would reopen for tourism from January 21st. “It is with great pleasure and excitement we announce that Sri Lanka will be open for tourism from Thursday”, he 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 visitors”, Kimarli added.
The decision to allow tourist arrivals into Sri Lanka once more has been made in order to boost the country’s flagging tourism sector, which contributes to a large part of the Sri Lankan economy.
A trail run to pave the way for the relaxation of tourism entry restrictions for Sri Lanka was successfully conducted in December 2020, when roughly 1,700 Ukranian tourists were permitted to visit the country.
Sri Lanka Tourist Visa Applications Now Open
As a result of the relaxation of entry restrictions, the Sri Lankan government has also announced that tourist visa applications for Sri Lanka are now being accepted once more.
A number of foreign nationalities are able to apply for a Sri Lanka tourist ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) through a simple online form, which eliminates the need to submit a tourist visa application in person at a Sri Lanka embassy or consulate in their country of residence.
However, it should be noted that Sri Lanka will not allow any foreign citizen who has spent up to 14 days in the UK before arrival to enter the country at present, and flights from the United Kingdom remain suspended.
Travelers who have been present in the UK within the previous 14 days are advised to check the worldwide visa requirements for Sri Lanka for updates in case these restrictions are lifted in the coming weeks,
Some Travel Restrictions for Sri Lanka Remain in Place
Although tourists are now permitted to enter Sri Lanka, all passengers who are arriving for tourism will still be required to follow the COVID-19 safety measures implemented by the country.
All those traveling to Sri Lanka for tourism will be required to stay in one of 55 hotels across the country which have been approved by the government and which are off-limits to locals apart from staff. They are required to be accompanied by officials to these designated locations upon arrival.
They will also need to present a medical certificate showing a negative COVID-19 PCR test result, taken no more than 4 days before arrival, to border authorities in Sri Lanka.
Tourists who are planning to spend up to 7 days in Sri Lanka will need to have 2 more PCR tests taken during the stay, while those staying for longer will need to have 3 tests taken. Anyone who tests positive but does not show symptoms will be required to self-isolate in their hotel room, while those showing symptoms will be taken to hospital.
Additionally, all tourist arrivals are required to pay a US $12 insurance fee that will cover up to US $50,000 in potential costs for any COVID-19 medical care that may be required.