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Wednesday October 20th, 2021
Tourism

Sri Lanka probing viral video of tourist who claims he turned back due to lockdown

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s tourism ministry together with the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Board (SLTDA) are investigating a viral video of a tourist who claims the country was under lockdown when he arrived in Colombo on October 07.

The video circulating on social media shows a tourist who says he took a long flight from Washington DC, US, only to learn that a transport reservation he had in Colombo for October 07 was not processed and the country was still under lockdown. Five hours after landing, the tourist says he took the same flight back to Istanbul, Turkey.

“You guys gotta open up, or tell the world that you’re closed. I will be going back one of these days, but not right now, until you guys get your act [together],” he says in the video.

Shehan Sumanasekara, Director-Chief Operations (all airports) at Airport & Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) told EconomyNext that he is mystified by the video.

“We guarantee that all protocols are in place at the airport for tourists and if he wanted to get any transportation or hotel bookings, all the counters are readily available at the airport itself.

“We can confidently say all those facilities were available at the airport. I don’t know why the tourist did not opt to use those facilities but made this viral video. It is mind-boggling actually,” said Sumanasekara.

Sumanasekara said that, even if the reservation the tourist had made through a third party website hadn’t gone through, he could still have taken advantage of all the facilities available at the airport.

There are 10 travel counters at the airport and the service providers who operate nearby are looking for business, he said.

Meanwhile, a tourism ministry official told EconmyNext on Tuesday (12) that minister Prasanna Ranatunga, who is in France currently, has ordered an investigation.

Sri Lanka had removed all travel restrictions for fully vaccinated tourists by September 28 when it removed an on-arrival PCR test requirement.

Sri Lanka removed the COVID-19 lockdown in the country on October 01.

The country opened for tourists in early 2021, and despite numerous COVID-19 restrictions imposed since then, never closed its borders.

In July 2021, fully vaccinated travellers were allowed to enter the country with only a day spent in quarantine.

Arrivals reports too indicate a gradual increase in the number of tourists, although significantly lower from pre-COVID times.

In September, arrivals to the country reached 13,000 from merely a 5,000 the previous month. (Colombo/Oct12/2021)

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