Sri Lanka aims for 3,300 arrivals per day as airports open; PCR tests at hotels prior to check-in
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka hopes to receive on average 3,300 passengers per day when it opens up the airports for tourists from January 21, Airport and Aviation Services Director (Operations) Shehan Sumanasekara said.
PCR’s tests would be conducted at designated hotels before check-in, amid reports that there is a significant drop in PCR testing capacity at the airport.
“Initially we are looking at about 3,300 passengers per day, but we don’t know if that many would arrive as tourists at first due to the pandemic. However, if we feel that 3,000 are indeed arriving in Sri Lanka, we will slowly increase the numbers,” Sumanasekara told EconomyNext.
The breakdown of 3,300 passengers is 2,500 tourists and 750 paid quarantine pax per day.
However, government repatriations which will be organised by the foreign ministry will have no limit.
When asked about the drop in testing capacity at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) for COVID-19, from 3,000 per day to 600, he said there is “nothing like that” but a decision has been made to no longer conduct tests at the airport but instead carry them out at the hotels prior to check-in.
Sri Lanka will open its international airports both at Mattala and Katunayake for tourists on Thursday (21).
The tourists will be allowed to visit 14 regulator-approved locations in a “bio-bubble”.
In the bio-bubble concept, tourists will not have any contact with the locals apart from the tour guides and hotel staff who will follow strict guidelines.
As part of a pilot project to revive the tourism industry, Sri Lanka brought down several thousand travellers from Ukraine in scheduled charter flights over the past few weeks starting on December 28.
Sumanasekara commending the pilot project said, “Since we started the pilot project till January 14, we have seen about 1,169 Ukrainian tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka. Out of this entire group only two people tested positive for COVID-19, so as a percentage it’s very minute and we want to highlight that the project has been a total success.
“Based on this project and what we have understood and with the valuable information we got, we will make sure that after January 21, our processes will be airtight,” he said. (Colombo/Jan18/2021)
Reported by Mahadiya Hamza. Edited by Himal Kotelawala.