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Thursday December 1st, 2022

Sri Lanka expects tourists from Germany, Dubai as airports re-open

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is expecting the first tourists from Germany and Dubai after Colombo and Mattala airports re-opened for tourists from January 21, with a daily ceiling of 2,500 tourists raising the possibility of getting a million visitors in 2021, officials said.

The Department of Immigration had issue 75 visas on the first few hours of January 21 for tourists, from America, Germany, the Middle East and China, Sri Lanka Tourism chief Kimarli Fernando said.

“The first guests are coming on SriLankan and Qatar from Germany,” Fernando said. “We are bringing via Emirates from Dubai. Not big numbers but we have to make a start.”

Based on the daily ceiling of 2,500 passengers, about a million tourists was a possibility for 2021 Fernando said, as numbers pick up, though no specific target had been set.

SriLankan Airlines is planning to start flights to Moscow in a bid to capture the tail end of the winter season in February, Chairman Ashok Pathirage said.

He said already about 30 passengers per flight were seen placing bookings.

Sri Lanka is allocating the 2,500 tourists among nine scheduled carriers, with SriLankan Airlines, which is operating the most flights a day getting the biggest allocation.

“We will manage it dynamically,” Director General of Civil Aviation Themiya Abeywickrema said.

SriLankan, Qatar, Etihad, Emirates, Turkish Airlines, China Eastern, Oman Airlines, Singapore and
Kuwait Airways, which have been flying to Sri Lanka before the Covid-19 pandemic are resuming operations.

Maldivian and Ethiopian Airlines had also been given the go ahead. New airlines from Pakistan, Bangladesh had also applied.

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Sri Lanka airport opening for tourist draws South Asian, regional airlines

“We are getting bookings. It will be small at the beginning,” Emirates Country Manager for Sri Lanka and the Maldives Chandana De Silva said.

“May be about 80 passengers but we expect it to improve. We are not expecting overnight 200 to 300 passengers a flight. We may get about 40 to 50 a flight initially. We will co-ordinate with airport to manage the daily ceiling.”

Sri Lanka Tourism had certified about 150 hotels as ‘safe and secure’ with training given on how to handle tourists and take action. About 50 hotels have so far signed up to receive foreign tourists so far.

A hotel that houses foreigners cannot get local guests nor have banquets.

“We are trying to stop tourists from bringing Coronavirus to the community and from the community passing the virus to tourists,” Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said.

Sri Lanka visas for tourists post Covid-19 with hotels, PCR tests, insurance pre-booked

Sri Lanka is requiring all tourists to undergo a PCR test 96 hours before arrival. In Sri Lanka a test will be taken before arrival and another two based on how long they stay.

Fernando said there were concerns over upfront costs but at the moment the health protocol required the tests.

Sri Lanka Tourism has negotiated a price of 7,500 rupees per test from private hotels. Tourists also have to take a 12 dollar Covid-19 insurance cover of 50,000 which will cover the cost of ambulances, a hospital stay or in the worst case funeral costs. (Colombo/Jan22/2021)

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Sri Lanka China-backed port to welcome second cruise ship

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s China-backed Hambantota Port said it was getting ready to welcome MV Azamara Quest, a cruise ship, as another passenger vessel departed.

Mein Schiff 5, operated by TUI had departed Hambantota International Port for Pulau Penang Island, Malaysia on November.

“As well as being her maiden call at the port, Mein Schiff 5 is the first passenger cruise ship to call at the port since the pandemic began,” said Johnson Liu, CEO of Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) said in a statement.

“It was undoubtedly a great boost for the tourist economy in the south when the vessel called at the Hambantota International Port.”

Mein Schiff 5’s passengers had also visited the Bundala National Park, Hambantota Botanical Gardens, Galle and Kataragama.

Passengers had explored Hambantota by tuk-tuk, while others had enjoyed the beaches in the Shangri La Hotel, the port said.

MV Azamara Quest will arrive in Hambanota on on December 05. (Colombo/Dec01/2022)

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Sri Lanka’s shares gain in mid market trade

EXONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s shares gained in mid market trade on Thursday (1), pushed up by strong positive sentiments on interest rates easing in line with inflation and speculation on government to hold talks with multilateral creditors ADB and World Bank for a possible loan facility.

Market has continued to gain for the past four sessions.

“Shares were moving on positive strong sentiments flowing in from yesterday (30), we are seeing a rally in the hotels, while the retail favorites such as LIOC and Expolanka,” analysts said.

Positive investor sentiments have been established, from positive comments from the Governor of the Central Bank over market rates eventually seeing an ease despite the fears of a domestic debt restructuring as inflation falls, increased liquidity in dollar markets, and the inter-bank liquidity improves.

Analysts further stated that, Treasury related stocks are also activated due to downward movements in yield.

All Share Price Index (ASPI) gained by 1.4 percent or 123.41 points to 8,774.64, while the most liquid share gained by 1.31% or 35.68 points to 2,765.

The market generated a turnover of 1.6 billion rupees at 1130 hours. (Colombo/Dec1/2022)

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Sri Lanka electricity losses from overpriced fuel, no tariff hike considered: regulator

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Electricity Board’s high operating costs are partly due to excessive prices paid for fuel and no tariff hike is being considered, Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka, Janaka Ratnayake said.

The CEB itself does not buy fuel but depends on state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation and Lanka Coal, another state firm to buy fuel. Both firms are periodically caught in procurement scandals.

“They are paying about 385 plus rupees per litre for furnace oil,” Ratnayaka told EconomyNext.

“That is too much. From the global market we can buy it to much lower price. It can be imported below 200 rupees,”

“I ask the government to take the necessary steps to create a system to import furnace oil, like they did for fuel, to be imported at the lower price levels. If that happens, we can go without going for a price hike.”

Sri Lanka’s CEB generally gets furnace oil and residual oil from the domestic refinery and usually do not import furnace oil.

The refinery however is not regularly operating due to inability to get crude amidst the worst currency crisis in the history of the island’s intermediate regime central bank.

Ratnayake had earlier brought to light import costs of the CPC.

Pushing for operations efficiency of the CEB is a role of the regulator. Regulating costs based on global benchmark prices to push for procurement efficiencies is a standard practice. However the PUCSL is not the official regulator of the petroleum sector.

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Sri Lanka power tariff revisions sought in Jan and July: Minister

Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera told parliament that cabinet approval was sought to twice yearly tariff hikes in January and July of each year.

No Electricity tariff hikes are being considered yet, Ratnayake said.

Wijesekera blamed the regulator as well as successive administrations for not regularly revising power prices and pushing the sector into crisis.

In Sri Lanka activists had also blocked cheap coal power. (Colombo/Dec01/2022)

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