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SLTDA updates tourist guidelines, further eases entry restrictions

  • Tourists now only need negative PCR test 72 hours before flight, down from 96 hours

  • Industry welcomes further relaxation on entry requirements

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) has updated the health protocols for tourists and further eased entry restrictions for international travellers.

According to the latest protocols issued this week (19), inbound tourists will now only have to test negative on a COVID-19 PCR test 72 hours prior to their flight as opposed to the 96 hours outlined in the previous update issued on 7 April.

The new guidelines apply to all international tourists visiting Sri Lanka under tourist visa and it is optional for dual citizens, valid resident visa holders and Sri Lankan citizens who opt to come under tourism route.

In the previous update of the guidelines, SLTDA reduced their mandatory quarantine time to just one day for tourists who have had their COVID-19 vaccine. Once they have followed the rules for seven-days, they can take a second PCR test, if the tourist is staying longer than 14-days. Upon negative results for both PCRs, tourists are allowed to leave the bio-bubble and the respective Level-1 hotel where the doctor will issue a discharge document upon verifying the PCR test results.

The Health Ministry updated its existing quarantine regulations to allow its citizens and foreign visitors to enter the country two weeks after they have had their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

However, on arrival, they must take a PCR test, and spend 24 hours in a State-mandated Level-1 hotel, until a negative result comes through.

The latest guidelines requests ‘no prior approval’ from the Foreign Affairs Ministry or the Civil Aviation Authority.

Although the tourists must still abide by the ‘bio-bubble’ restrictions during the first seven days, they are permitted to use all the facilities of the certified ‘Safe and Secure’ Level 1 hotels.

There is also no minimum duration of stay in Sri Lanka, according to the new guidelines.

It is recommended that all potential visitors refer to before they apply for a visa to understand the guidelines and documents that are required. All Level-1 hotels certified can be found on website.

Industry experts said Sri Lanka is joining the list of destinations that are easing entry restrictions for tourists, which is a welcoming move to revive the industry.

Post-resumption of tourism, Kazakhstan, Germany, United Kingdom, Ukraine and China were the top five source markets in the first quarter of 2021, during which period Sri Lanka attracted nearly 10,000 tourists.

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