Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga has temporarily cancelled a visit to Kushinagar due to the spike in COVID-19 in India but confirmed the travel bubble arrangement is in force.
The visit to Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh on 26 April was to be a symbolic gesture to mark the commencement of the travel bubble between the two countries with COVID safety guidelines. Buddhists believe Kushinagar is where the Gautama Buddha attained nirvana after his death and the visit was also described as a pilgrimage to signify strong ties between India and Sri Lanka.
India is the biggest source market for Sri Lanka’s tourism.
However, a spike in COVID cases has dampened hopes for a much desired inflow of Indian tourists. India on Wednesday saw a record 2,000 deaths and 295,000 new cases in 24 hours, among the world’s biggest daily case totals and on a par with numbers seen in the United States during a deadly surge in January.