Sri Lanka “Indefinitely Postpones” Opening Up For Tourism

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Sri Lanka has taken a longer term view of the seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic and has closed its borders ‘indefinitely’. The Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) said that it was concerned about returning Sri Lankan expats, many of whom have been working in the Middle East and Africa, as well as foreign tourists entering the country.

Dr. Naveen De Soyza, the GMOA Deputy Secretary, stated yesterday that “China and Australia are two countries to name a few that have seen a sudden spike in cases due to reopening borders and easing lockdowns. Tourism should be opened gradually.”

Sri Lankan Government spokesman Keheiliya Rambuwella stated that “Plans to open the country up to foreign tourism had to be delayed. We will take into consideration all conditions before deciding on when to reopen.”

Sri Lanka closed its main airport for passengers at the end of March and had originally been due to reopen it from August 1. That is now not going to happen except for sponsored Repatriation Flights and Logistics and Haulage operations.

Sri Lanka is a popular tourist destination for Indians and Pakistanis during the summer Monsoon months as it is often cooler than its neighbours, both of whom are experiencing serious Covid-19 infection rates. India has been reporting about 20,000 new daily cases, Pakistan about 4,500, and Sri Lanka about five.

The main tourist season for European countries and Australia into Sri Lanka is different and tends to be around the winter months of December, January and February. It is also popular with Chinese tourists around the Chinese New Year Festivities.

The views of many foreign expatriates based in Sri Lanka has been to wait it out, as returning to Europe or other Asian destinations such as China and Singapore requires two weeks quarantine. That, coupled with no guarantee of return means those who can are staying put.


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