With overseas travel restrictions slowly easing, it’s time to get up to date on the latest updates and restrictions from popular destinations around the globe.
Before the global pandemic, Sri Lanka was rapidly gaining popularity among Aussie travellers.
In 2018, the island recorded its highest-ever number of arrivals, with over 2.3 million tourists choosing to holiday in Sri Lanka.
The same year, the sector earned around $4.3 billion, 11 per cent more than the previous year.
Even before the island introduced relaxed, bubble-free entry requirements for fully-vaccinated travellers at the start of October, tourists numbers began taking off again at speed.
We had a chat with Sri Lanka’s Tourism Promotion Bureau to get the latest details you need to sell this dreamy destination.
Travel Weekly: What restrictions are in place for international travellers entering Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka’s Tourism Promotion Bureau: To holiday in Sri Lanka, tourists need to prove they have been vaccinated with the recommended dose of any COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before arrival, as well as a negative COVID-19 PCR Report within 72 hours of embarkation.
Unvaccinated children below the age of 12 are allowed entry into the country; however, parents will need to pay upon arrival for a PCR test for unvaccinated children aged 12-18 years.
Non- and partially-vaccinated travellers have also the opportunity to travel within the country’s ‘safety bubble’.
TW: What can travellers expect from Sri Lanka as a destination once travel is safe again?
SLTPB: As a destination, Sri Lanka offers travellers everything from pristine beaches to untamed wilderness; the highest concentration of waterfalls in the world, misty mountains, and an inexhaustible list of natural wonders. All this is swaddled in a rich and diverse culture, with a riveting history that adds to the island’s allure.
Not to mention our range of water-based activities, tea tourism, wellness tourism, culture, heritage, cuisine, ancient traditions, national parks, wildlife and our people.
The fact that a traveller can experience all this in one compact island is unique, and this cannot be found anywhere else in the World.
We have also recently introduced long-term visa for digital nomads, to promote a “work from your own tropical paradise” concept.
TW: Has the tourism industry seen any bounce back or regrowth so far?
SLTPB: With the relaxing of protocols for fully vaccinated arrivals into the country month on month, we are seeing an increase in our arrivals, with September recording 13,547 tourist arrivals into the country, the highest number since the pandemic began.
That’s a 167 per cent increase compared with August.
TW: What about COVID-19 case numbers?
SLTPB: With close to 60 per cent of its population fully vaccinated, the island has seen a reduction in case numbers which has resulted in the country being fully operational.
As with all other countries around the world, at times there are emergency healthy protocols that are implemented to ensure the safety of the people; however, most areas of the economy are fully operational.
TW: Is Sri Lanka a good option for travellers who would like to ease back into overseas travel?
SLTPB: Sri Lanka is perfectly positioned to attract the post-COVID traveller with its wide-open spaces and a multitude of nature-based experiences.
With the many lockdowns throughout the world due to the pandemic, people have been restless and when the opportunity arises for travel, recent research shows that the trend is to travel big.
Travellers are gravitating more towards that ‘big idea’ or ‘bucket list’ trip while maybe doing fewer trips per year. However, when they do travel, they will invest the time and money in long-haul travel and staying in one destination for longer periods of time.
Sri Lanka Tourism also recognises that wellness tourism is a growing market with huge potential, and we are working to position the island to cater to the demand of this high yielding segment.
TW: What do travel agents need to know to effectively sell Sri Lanka as a destination?
SLTPB: Post-COVID travellers are looking for places to explore and re-connect with themselves and nature.
Sri Lanka, blessed with abundant flora and fauna, wildlife, serene beaches, friendly people, amazing food and authentic experiences, will offer everything and more to the traveller seeking peace and a sense of freedom.
The island has emerged as a destination for travellers who have a desire to look beyond the superficial elements and explore an authentic experience-driven route. Accommodation ranges from the larger chain hotels, luxury boutique, and villa properties to tented safari camps and colonial mountain escapes.
Sri Lanka is open and eager to welcome back visitors, and the easing of entry protocols makes it the perfect getaway destination.
Featured image source: iStock/hadynyah