ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will restrict access to important religious and archaeological sites to its citizens as a group of Ukrainian tourists – the first foreign travellers to the island since the Covid outbreak – will be visiting those sites the government announced today.
The announcement from the Central Cultural Fund issued this morning January 3, said that Sri Lankans will be restricted from entering these sites when the Ukrainian tourists are due to visit.
“These restrictions are in place to prevent Sri Lankan pilgrims from mingling with the Ukrainian visitors” under a program implemented by Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, the statement said.
“The Ministry is currently creating a modus operandi so that local and foreign visitors to these sites do not mingle in the interest of safety due to the Covid pandemic,” the statement added.
Therefore the government says a number of sites of religious and archaeological value in Polonnaruwa will be banned for Sri Lankan tourists tomorrow January 4 due to the presence of the Ukrainian tourists, the statement said.
These include the Parakrama Palace complex, the sacred Dalada Maluwa, Shiva Devalaya, Rankoth Vehera, Lankatilaka Vehera, Kiri Vehera, Gal Viharaya and the Thivanka Pilima geya which will be banned for Sri Lankans.
Sri Lankans will also be banned from visiting the Sigiriya site on Tuesday, January 5, until 1:00 pm the Ministry announced as the Ukrainians are due to visit.
These tourists who were seen disporting themselves on the beaches of Mirissa and other Southern Resorts are due to visit Kandy, Dambulla and other regions in the coming days the announcement said.
According to media reports, this group of tourists have been brought into the country by the former Ambassador to Ukraine, Udayanga Weeratunga.
The SundayTimes reported today that the group of Ukrainian tourists were facilitated by Weeratunga, a relative of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who has registered his address as Temple Trees, Colombo 3 the official residence of the Premier. (Colombo, January 3, 2021)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana