Sri Lankan hoteliers welcome easing of tourist entry requirements

COLOMBO, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- The Hotel Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) has welcomed a request by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) to ease entry requirements for foreigners in a bid to revive the country's COVID-19 battered tourism industry, local media reported here Friday.

People enjoy their time near the Galle Face Green in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Nov. 28, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)

"Subsequent to the Easter Sunday attacks, Sri Lanka tourism has lost out on three winter seasons, which has had a devastating impact on the industry and the local economy. We fear the industry will not be able to sustain a fourth winter season if globally-recognized entry protocol is not implemented," the THASL was quoted as saying by the Daily FT.

The THASL said that Sri Lanka is in the middle of a successful vaccination drive. They said that the safety and security of citizens should be protected while reopening the country to foreign currency inflows from tourism.

The SLTDA on Wednesday wrote a letter requesting the country's Health Services Director General to ease entry requirements for foreign visitors. The letter was signed by SLTDA Chair Kimarli Fernando and addressed to Health Services Director General Dr. Asela Gunawardena.

The SLTDA requested that mandatory PCR tests for fully vaccinated individuals and children below 12 years of age be removed.

Tourism is one of Sri Lanka's largest foreign currency earners, raking in between 3 to 4 billion U.S. dollars per year.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused tourist arrivals to drop from 1.9 million in 2019 to 508,000 in 2020. Tourism receipts in 2020 dropped to 682 million U.S. dollars.

Sri Lanka received 19,337 tourists between January to July this year, earning 26 million U.S. dollars.