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Tuesday September 26th, 2023

Sri Lanka eyes post-Coronavirus tourism with tighter visa, health rules

FILE PHOTO – Tourists on the Southern coastline

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is making plans draw tourists after a Coronavirus crisis, with a raft of new operating rules for hotels, transport and visa to cut changes of the virus being transmitted and protect workers and their families, a tourism official said.

“The visa process will be changed. When you turn up you will not be able to have visa,’ Kimarli Fernando, Chairperson, Sri Lanka Tourism told an online forum organized by Advocata Institute, a Colombo-based think tank.

“Everyone will need to apply for visa two weeks before arrival and all will be requested to undergo a test which will be selected at the discretion of the Health Ministry.

“We will ask the tourists’ to book their accommodations. It has not been finalized yet but we are suggesting that all tourists adhere to this.”

Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals had dropped 70.8 percent from a year earlier to 71,370 in March 2020, amid a Coronavirus crisis, with borders closed for arrivals from March 19.

Industry officials said it may take about a year to recover but they are already getting bookings for January.


Sri Lanka hotels brace for 12-month slump on Covid-19 hit

Digital Track

An app is being developed to track and provide situational information on Sri Lanka’s Covid-19sitution to tourists.

This app would be available for download at the Sri Lanka tourism official website. Fernando said that the software would not be used to reference or market any hotel or service provider but to simply act as a mode of getting information..

“When tourists arrive in the airport we will know all the information about them, where they have traveled and so on and so forth,” Fernando said. “And then on arrival they will be subjected to enter the medical tests which will happen at our cost.”

“After this process, tourists who are tested healthy will proceed onto immigration where all normal procedures will take place and they will be given an app which when registered in gives all the information on Sri Lanka and all the certified hotels in regard to Covid-19.”

“We will also have certified transport too which we will look into and after that when they enter their hotels there will be a detailed protocol to be followed,” she said.

“There will be strict guidelines given to hotels on how housekeeping should be done while adhering to all Covid-19 preventive methods.

“If in any case we are not happy with the health status of a guest we will have army commanded 4star or 5star quarantine hotels which would charge whatever the dollar price you would charge and get them quarantined.”

Any tourist who tests negative to Coronavirus can develop the disease within the next 14 days.

Premium Quarantine

Until Vietnam closed borders to take the pressure off contact tracers in the current Coronavirus crisis, tourist who arrived in the country could choose between military run free quarantine centres or ‘premium’ private quarantine from budget to 5-star.

Around 270 hotels signed up for the scheme, though not all were approved at the time inbound arrivals were halted. At some hotels food was served by robot waiters.

Of the 268 Coronavirus cases discovered up to April 17 and treated about 160 were foreigners. Many have been released from hospital.

Meanwhile Fernando said hotel staff will be quarantined prior to returning to their villages in order to prevent any risks.

“A separate guideline for hotel staff is being drawn up, where we will specify whether there should be an approved doctor present and other processes like full quarantine process before the staff go back home,” she said.

“The last thing we need is a hotel staff returning to their villages and infecting the entire area,” she said.

Fernando said that the tourist board has looked at Singapore models on this regard.

Singapore however has some community transmission and had 9,125 cases so far and 11 deaths.

Vietnam, which had aggressive contact tracing and completely eradicated the disease during the Wave I influx from China in January and February. In the last five days zero new cases had been found and 216 are in hospital. None had died.

Vietnam’s neigbhour, Cambodia, is also contact tracing. (Colombo/Apr22/2020)

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Sri Lanka cabinet okays appropriation bill for 2024 budget

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers had approved a draft Appropriation Act for 2024, the state information office said.

The Finance Minister’s proposal to gazette the bill and table it in parliament was approved by the cabinet.

Presenting the appropriation bill is the first stage of presenting a budget for 2024,

The appropriation bills set outs the expenditure plans for each ministry.

The budget proposals, made in November is called the second reading of the Appropriation Act. (Colombo/Sept24/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s MEPA to get 28.5 mn rupees from Singaporean AEPW, for beach clean up

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) is to receive 5.7 million rupees a year, for five years, from Singapore-based marine waste solutions provider, Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), to maintain 8 beach cleaner machines.

The donation is meant to support MEPA clean coastal areas across Sri Lanka, using BeachTech Hydro Sweepy beach cleaner machines, previously donated by the organisation.

The oil industry-founded non-governmental organisation donated the 8 beach cleaners worth about US$180,000 to MEPA in the wake of the 2021 MV X-press Pearl ship disaster.

The machines manufactured by Kässbohrer Geländefahrzeug AG, a German company, are effective at cleaning up plastic nurdles and other types of potentially harmful non-biodegradable waste, minimising human contact with hazardous materials.

As a significant amount of money is spent for the deployment of these machines for beach cleaning activities, the Alliance to End Plastic Waste has agreed to provide the funds for the upkeep of the machines for a period of five years.

With this financial donation, the Maritime Environment Protection Authority will be able to continue using these machines without interruption to clean identified beaches in the future. (Colombo/Sep26/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s SEC makes four new appointments

ECONOMYNEXT – The Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC) made four new additions from diverse backgrounds to its leadership.

These appointments are expected to increase the effectiveness of the SEC secretariat in the respective operating areas, the SEC said.

Manuri Weerasinghe, with over 20 years of experience in accounting, financial management, financial reporting and auditing, was appointed Director, Corporate Affairs.

She is a Fellow Member of CA Sri Lanka, member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and a member of the Certified Practicing Accountants of Australia.

Her academic credentials include a Master of Business Administration and a BSc (Hons) in Accountancy and Financial Management (Special).

Prior to joining the SEC, she served in several financial management positions in Bermuda and Sweden.

Madura P R Wanigasekara was appointed Chief Digital Officer. He has over 20 years delivering and managing IT solutions, and has held several senior management positions in the public and private sectors.

His academic qualifications include a Master of Science in Information Technology from the University of Colombo and a Bachelor of Information Technology from the Curtin University of Technology.

He is also a member of the Australian Computer Society (ACS).

Sharmila Panditaratne was appointed Assistant Director, Legal and Enforcement.

She is an Attorney-at-Law with over 21 years of experience as a securities market regulator.

She holds a Master of Laws degree from the University of Houston, Texas and has worked at two law firms in the USA prior to joining the SEC.

Riyaz Bary, Deputy Solicitor General at the Attorney General’s Department was appointed a Director on secondment basis. (Colombo/Sep26/2023)

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