We have collated the latest updates from credible industry sources to offer a single point of reference on reopening Sri Lanka.
Reopening Sri Lanka for Tourism
Updated on 18th January 2021
As Sri Lanka prepares to reopen the country for tourism in January, here’s everything you need to know to be ready.
It is mandatory for hotels to provide confirmed booking number (reference number) only after collecting funds for necessary PCR tests ($40 per PCR test and number of PCR tests depends on the duration of the stay) and insurance premium of $12 for a cover of $50,000 for one month.
Following are the instructions you would need to give international tourists planning to visit Sri Lanka.
- It is mandatory to have a confirmed hotel booking in a Certified Safe & Secure Level 1 hotel/s prior to applying for a Tourist Visa (visit www.srilanka.travel/helloagain for details of Certified Safe & Secure Level 1 hotel).
- These are the steps to follow when applying for a visa:
- Obtain a confirmed hotel booking in a Safe and Secure Level 1 hotel.
- When making a hotel booking, pay for the PCR tests (USD 40 per test, per person, depending on the number of days of stay) and USD 12 for COVID-19 Insurance for one month. Visit www.srilanka.travel/helloagain for details.
- Once you pay for your insurance and PCR tests, and have a pre confirmed hotel booking at a Certified Safe & Secure Level 1 hotel, the traveller will be issued a reference number by the hotel. This reference number is mandatory for visa processing. Once the traveller receives the reference number, they can apply for the visa.
- Apply for visa online at www.eta.gov.lk. On the online visa application, in the place where you are required to fill in the contact details in Sri Lanka, please indicate the hotel name and confirmed booking reference number.
Source: Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority
Health & Safety Etiquette for Hotels and Accommodation Providers – Download
Things you need to know when preparing to welcome visitors (Tour Guides) – Download
Things you need to know when prepping for your visit (Travellers) – Download
FAQ – Download
More information can be found here.
Source – Sri Lanka Tourism
Sri Lanka currently has no confirmed date for resuming tourism. Authorities are closely monitoring the on-ground situation and will make a decision as soon as they are able to. This space will be updated with new information whenever it is available.
At this point, local authorities have concluded that:
· Once Sri Lanka opens for tourism, citizens of all nations will be welcome.
· Comprehensive testing protocols will be followed prior to boarding a flight to Sri Lanka and upon entering the country.
· Guests will be required to visit the country for a minimum two week period, and stay at a single certified hotel.
· Guests who wish to remain in Sri Lanka for a longer period will be required to stay at a single certified hotel for a minimum 21 days prior to being able to travel around the island and stay at other certified hotels.
· Hotels that are open to foreign guests will not be permitted to welcome local guests at the same time, in order to minimise social interaction.
· Guests will not be permitted to leave the hotel premises during the mandatory 14 day or 21 day periods. They are welcome to move freely around the hotel premises and utilise all hotel facilities during this time.
· Guests will be required to download a mandatory software application when applying for an e-visa to Sri Lanka. This app will enable contact tracing in the event it is required for health and safety purposes.
· Guests will be required to pay a value of USD 35 as visa fees, and an additional USD 110 to cover costs of PCR testing and mandatory medical/COVID-19 insurance.
· In the event a guest tests positive for COVID-19, they will be treated at the KDU University Hospital.
Updated – 12 October 2020
Update from the Sri Lanka Tourism Alliance
From reopening the BIA Airport to what has the Tourism sector done to welcome the foreign tourists again, Chairperson of Sri Lanka Tourism, Mrs. Kimarli Fernando answers some of the most frequently asked questions from us. #sltourism
Posted by Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority on Thursday, September 17, 2020
Updated – 22 September 2020
Tourism Alliance Take on Reopening of Airport for Tourism
Although August 1st was announced for tourist arrivals to resume, it is now pushed back by a month or so (date expected to be announced mid-July) as a cautionary measure to protect Sri Lanka’s competent handling of the pandemic, with just 11 deaths and no community transmission for the last two months.
The upsurge of cases globally and a number of Sri Lankans returning from overseas and testing positive (and quarantined immediately), has alarmed authorities. The opening for tourism has hence been pushed back, to also buy time to enhance capacity for testing on arrival.
Sri Lanka Tourism has published a comprehensive protocol which hotels will be certified for. Domestic tourism resumed at the beginning of June.
Updated – 29 June 2020
Update from THASL – June 2020
Sri Lanka Tourism issued an update on 06th June 2020 with opening guidelines
Who can visit?
All nationalities are welcome and all types of travellers whether groups, families, individuals.
Which airports will operate?
Bandaranaike International Airport [BIA], Colombo Ratmalana Airport [RMA] and Mattala Rajapaksa Hambantota Airport [MRIA] will be operating for tourist arrivals from Aug 1, 2020.
What are the visa procedures?
- All travelers will require a valid visa; this will be issued for 30 days and extendable for upto 6 months after arrival. Online visa at http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/
- Further relaxation for long stay guests is currently under consideration, enabling tourist to be granted five-year multiple entry visas with maximum 6 months stay.
- Visa fee US$100
Information required for visa application
- Booking details at Certified Accommodation
- Itinerary in Sri Lanka
- Return ticket
- Proof of medical insurance
Where can I stay and is there a minimum duration?
- A minimum 5-night stay in Sri Lanka is required.
- Independent professional audits will be done to certify accommodation providers who will be listed on the Sri Lanka tourism website. Details of bookings made with Certified Accommodation providers are required for the visa application.
Pre-departure COVID-19 PCR testing
A negative PCR test is required prior to boarding your flight and on arrival in Sri Lanka. The test should be no older than 72 hours prior to boarding.
On arrival in Sri Lanka
The airport will have high intensity sanitation measures in place for all areas and staff.
- There is no quarantine on arrival unless symptoms are detected.
- A PCR test would be done on arrival at the airport. No charge.
- Currently it takes 24 hours to receive the test results. We are making changes to have results within 4-6 hours by August. In the event it is required to wait 24 hours for test results; you will be able to select a hotel for a one-night stay from Certified 4 or 5-star hotels in Colombo or Negombo until the test results are received.
- A further test will be done 4-5 days after arrival by a mobile unit in coordination with your Certified Accommodation provider.
- Travelers staying for more than 10 days will be required to take a third test during their stay. While this may be inconvenient it is essential to safeguard everybody and provide peace of mind.
- In case of a positive PCR result, quarantine in a designated hotel or hospitalisation will take place depending on the details of the case. Quarantine would usually be 14 to 21 days if symptoms are detected.
Moving around Sri Lanka
- To ensure your safety, please arrange transportation prior to your arrival, with your Certified Accommodation provider or travel agent. Public transport should not be used.
- All tourist sites will be open from 1st August onwards with safety protocols and measures in place to ensure the wellbeing of our travelers.
- There will be no travel restrictions between districts for tourists.
What is Sri Lanka’s status with COVID-19?
Being an island, and thanks to the proactive measures taken, Sri Lanka has been able to manage the spread of the virus. No active community clusters have been detected in the last 30 days within the country.
Although appearing inconvenient, there needed to be much negotiation with the health authorities to get the opening date approved. Practically, nearer the time, there will likely be improvements to the process. It is unlikely that tourists will rush in immediately Aug 1, but technically Sri Lanka is open, so travellers can start planning to come later. It sends the signal that we are safe to travel to, even if we may appear obsessed that travellers may have the virus.
We understand that the airport is planning to acquire high speed machines to reduce the test result wait time to 4-5 hours. We believe that travellers will also want the comfort (when planning a holiday) of knowing that the destination is being stringent at the outset in order to protect hard-won gains, with only 11 deaths and 300 locally transmitted cases. We understand that in some countries getting tested when asymptomatic is not possible, so an on arrival test may suffice, as is the procedure in some other destinations such as Alaska.
06th June Update – Number of Cases
Imported cases – 605
- Navy cluster 883
- Local transmission 313
Total cases – 1801
Recovered – 891
Active – 899
Deaths – 11
Last community transmission – 30th April 2020
Source: Ministry of Health