Sri Lanka to help 18,000 tourists return home in Coronavirus crisis

CLOSED DOORS: Tourist stand outside the closed Dehiwala Zoo, in Colombo on March 15, 2020, following the authorities announcement to close it for two weeks as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is ready to help an estimated 18,093 tourists return home either via scheduled flights which are still operating or special charters that are required, the Indian Ocean island’s tourism office said.

Sri Lanka Tourism said it was working with the Foreign Ministry and embassies to arrange facilities for tourists to return.

“Sri Lanka Tourism would facilitate any country to fly out their nationals on holiday or on work here; back to their home country via charter flights on request,” the agency said

“Though arrivals are suspended into the country, all departures are supported and Srilankan Airlines operates departure flights daily to UK, Melbourne and Narita.

Qatar and Oman Air and a number of other airlines are also flying to Sri Lanka daily at least till March 31, when Sri Lankan authorities are due to review decision on airport operations.

Sri Lanka tourism said as of March 25, 18,093 tourists were in the country according to the immigration office.

“If you are a service provider in the hospitality industry currently hosting international tourists, we kindly request you to support tourists with airport transportation,” Sri Lanka Tourism said.

“Due to the current curfew in the country, Acting Inspector General of Police has assured that the air ticket could be used in lieu of a curfew pass for the passengers as well as the vehicle and driver.

“Tourists who are unable to find transport to get to the airport, please contact the closest Police Station or Sri Lanka Tourism 24/7 hotline on 1912.”

The immigration office said it has extended all visas by an order until April 12, and departing passenger can pay fees without penalties at the airport.






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