Sri Lanka government has taken prompt action to prohibit Indian travellers visiting West Asian countries or Singapore to use the island nation as a transit hub despite Tourism Authority ruling to allow such visits.
The Civil Aviation Authority announced that travellers from India will not be allowed to disembark in Sri Lanka making the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) regulation null and void.
The decision to ban Indian travellers to make use of Sri Lanka as a transit hub for visiting other destinations like West Asia or Singapore subject to the need of 14 days in quarantine in the island with immediate effect has been taken as the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly in India.
Several countries have banned travellers from India as well as Sri Lanka and other South Asian countries. Restrictions were imposed last week on Indian tourists arriving in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) has issued new set of regulations on April 24 for international arrivals for the purpose of 14-day quarantine enroute to other countries.
SLTDA has stated that “Some countries accept quarantine in Sri Lanka as an entry requirement to their country, where direct arrival for the origin country is not permitted. This is a reflection of Sri Lanka’s health and safety regulations,”
These regulations have now been reversed following the government’s usual practice of changing rules and regulations imposed by ministries and authorities frequently.
Soon after announcement of these regulations to allow Indian travellers to use Sri Lanka as a transit hub hundreds of Indians have rushed in to make use of this facility.
Travel agents were also t promoting this type of travel to Sri Lanka with a view of tackling the decline of tourists following the tourism industry shut-down for nearly 10 months last year
Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga had said that Indian tourists visit Sri Lanka in a travel bubble.He said that since the coronavirus crisis in New Delhi the number of Indians visiting Sri Lanka had been reduced.
The Minister also said that the Indians were placed in separate hotels and had no contact with other tourists. Ranatunga also said that any decision on closing the airports or reducing the overall number of arrivals to Sri Lanka will be taken if the health authorities make such a request
He however said that the airport cannot be closed immediately as that will affect Sri Lankans returning to the country.The Minister said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has issued instructions to allow Sri Lankan migrant workers to return to the country.