Sri Lanka develops airport opening protocol
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has developed a protocol for a possible re-opening of the country’s airport which a committee is reviewing, the Indian Ocean islands tourism promotion agency said.
Sri Lanka’s tourism authorities have been training hotels on safety protocols during the closure.
The committee review process will delay any airport opening, the agency said.
“This is a global health pandemic and we are guided by the Health Officials,” Sri Lanka Tourism chief Kimarli Fernando said.
“Diluting the health protocols would compromise the safety of international travellers and citizens when the Airport reopens.
“Unless the Ministry of Health gives us the approval to relax the health and safety protocols, we are unable to do so.
“Meanwhile, we will continue to support our stakeholders to ensure the safety of all and reach out to support you to thrive in the new normal that we face at this time.”
The full statement is reproduced below:
Strict health protocols vital to ensure the safety of international travellers and citizens when the Airport reopens.
As COVID-19 is a Health Pandemic affecting most Nations and Sri Lanka, there need to be strict health protocols to ensure the safety of not only our citizens but also international travellers.
For this purpose, Sri Lanka Tourism published the Health Protocol for the tourism sector in June 2020 based on global best practices, giving ample time for the industry to be familiar with the guidelines.
Tourism Entry Protocols and Preparedness
Sri Lanka Tourism was one of the first in the Asian region to prepare and issue a comprehensive COVID-19 Health Protocol for the Industry which was developed and issued with the support of the Ministry of Health, the UN World Health Organization and the input of the industry.
Currently, over 92 establishments; accommodation providers & tour operators have been awarded the Safe & Secure Certification to service & accommodate international tourist for the first 14 days. We continue to audit and award certifications.
Sri Lanka received the Safe Travel Stamp from World Travel & Tourism Council, reflective of the sound protocol implemented by Sri Lanka Tourism. This includes the independent Auditing firm KPMG inspecting the ‘Safe and Secure Certification’ that provides Global Travellers with the comfort and confidence that Sri Lanka has taken all necessary steps to ensure safety.
The audits are conducted free of charge for the first-time certification where the costs are being borne by SLTDA. Auditing and certification are stringent as they should be to ensure high health and safety standards, in line with other countries in the region. Considering the nature of the virus as compromises can be dangerous.
Certification includes a QR code that will permit guests to provide feedback on the health & safety protocols followed by their hotel & service provider, which will enable continuous assessment, besides inspection by the PHIs and regional health officers.
Awareness and Training
Several training sessions were conducted on Pandemic Preparedness for SMEs, designed and rolled out together with S4IG Australia and Asian Development Bank. COVID-19 guideline training was conducted partnering with Market Development Facility (MDF) of Australia and the Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL).
To all the stakeholder associations, Sri Lanka Tourism kindly suggests you arrange similar training programmes for your members and we will support by providing trainers who are familiar with the guideline.
Airport Opening Protocol
A detailed Airport Opening Protocol has been developed in the last several months and presented to the Hon. Minister of Health. Another Committee has been appointed today to again review the protocol, which we are made to understand will further delay the Airport Opening.
“This is a global health pandemic and we are guided by the Health Officials. Diluting the health protocols would compromise the safety of international travellers and citizens when the Airport reopens. Unless the Ministry of Health gives us the approval to relax the health and safety protocols, we are unable to do so.
Meanwhile, we will continue to support our stakeholders to ensure the safety of all and reach out to support you to thrive in the new normal that we face at this time” Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando shared.
How to obtain the ‘Safe & Secure’ Certification
This Guideline is available on the SLTDA official website and can be accessed through https://sltda.gov.lk/storage/documents/SLTourism-OperationalGuidelines.pdf.
The guideline provides direction to all tourism service providers on how to carry out their operations in a responsible manner adhering to the health protocols. While every tourism service provider is expected to familiarize with the overall guideline contents, chapter 4 is specifically dedicated to the accommodation service sector and chapters 3 & 6 provide guidance to travel agents, tour operators and tour crews.
Chapter 5 is for other tourist facilities and services including stand-alone restaurants, cafes, theatres, supermarkets, shopping malls etc., while chapter 7 is for attraction sites and activity places.
Any SLTDA registered tourism service provider from accommodations, travel agents, tour operators, tours crews (tour guides and chauffeurs) or other services can apply for ‘Safe & Secure’ certification, if they are ready to be audited by the KPMG. The cost of the first audit as mentioned earlier will be borne by SLTDA and to apply for certification, SLTDA registration with license renewal is a mandatory requirement.
The application is available online and can be accessed through https://sltda.gov.lk/safe-certification. Based on the applied date, the audit schedules will be prepared by SLTDA and forwarded to KPMG for implementation.
For the accommodation sector, travel agents/tour operators and stand-alone facilities, the assessments will include completing of KPMG’s initial checklist/questionnaire by the relevant service provider, which will be followed by the physical on-site audit at a pre-arranged date.
Assessment of the tour crews including tour guides and chauffeurs are based on an examination conducted by KPMG to check the level of overall knowledge and awareness on the guideline contents with special attention to details in chapters 3 & 6 of the guideline.