Fully vaccinated Indians permitted entry

By Dinitha Rathnayake

Fully vaccinated Indian travellers are allowed to travel within Sri Lanka subsequent to a negative PCR test, according to Tourism Ministry Secretary S. Hettiarachchi.

Speaking to The Morning, Hettiarachchi said that these travellers will however have to stay in a hotel facility rated three-star or above during their visit.

Travellers from India were not permitted to disembark in Sri Lanka from May 2021 due to a surge in Covid-19 cases in their country. This travel ban, which was imposed with immediate effect, also suspended a bilateral biological travel bubble arrangement. However, later, the Tourism Ministry stated that the bubble was still in place, and would be followed with strict health protocols and the necessary quarantine requirements.

Meanwhile, Hettiarachchi added that 14-day “quarantine packages” are permitted at present, and that travellers are allowed to stay for 14 days in the country to undergo quarantine. These packages are offered to any national, according to Hettiarachchi.

However, earlier, the quarantine-related travel package offered to Indian nationals visiting Sri Lanka was not encouraged by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA). The quarantine-related travel package offer was released by travel agencies for visiting Indian nationals. The package included 13 nights of accommodation in a three-star hotel with two PCR tests. The cost per person was estimated as $ 690.

Speaking to The Morning at the time, Hettiarachchi said that this tour package was offered to Indian travellers without informing the Sri Lankan authorities.

“Sri Lanka is struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic. So is India. We don’t want more trouble coming our way. Some agencies created these packages without our knowledge, which we don’t encourage,” he added.

When The Morning questioned a travel agent who offered the said quarantine-related travel package at the time, they said that it was no longer valid, noting: “The Government did not support this, so we had to stop it temporarily.”

When queried as to when they had begun promoting this package, they declined to comment.

“I see this as a political plan more than anything else. There is no process to facilitate quarantine for Indian nationals. We are presently preparing for the domestic situation,” they further claimed at the time.