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Sri Lanka Tourism gears up to welcome international visitors

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As Sri Lanka opens its doors to the world once again; Sri Lanka Tourism has pulled out all the stops, ensuring that every precautionary measure has been set in place to make the island getaway as safe, secure and serene as possible for the visitors. In this regard Sri Lanka Tourism has published ‘Safety Protocols’ to be followed by the tourism industry stakeholders and visitors. These protocols were issued by the Ministry of Health and adopted by Sri Lanka Tourism after a thorough analysis of the situation and following multiple consultations with all relevant stakeholders and health professionals to ensure a smooth transition to begin operations in the midst of this new normal.

As per the safety protocols published Sri Lanka does not require a minimum number of days to stay. i.e. visitors to the island can stay even 3 to 4 days. Also offers ‘Quarantine free’ visitor experience where the visitors are allowed to enjoy all facilities in their respective hotels including the swimming pools, spas, gym etc. However the only requirement put in place for the safety of the traveller, tourism stakeholders and Sri Lankan community is the need for the travellers to stay at a ‘Safe and Secure’ certified, Level 1 hotel or hotels in the initial 14 days of their stay. This ensures the creation of a bio-bubble for the international visitors assuring the safety of the local communities, employees of the industry and the visitors to the industry. The respective hotels and accommodation providers along with the travel agents and tour operators will be entrusted to ensure that visitors don’t break the bubble of safety.

‘Safe & Secure’ certified hotel

These are hotels or accommodation providers who comply with the COVID-19 Health Protocols and the Tourism Operational Guidelines (visit srilanka.travel for details of the Tourism Operational Guidelines issued). The hotels have been subjected to an audit by an independent audit firm and will be continually assessed. The ‘Safe & Secure’ certificate is issued with a QR code unique to each certified hotel. By scanning the QR code using a smartphone, visitors can not only check the key information of the certified hotel but also immediately report to Sri Lanka Tourism of any violations related to the guideline procedures with photo evidence. Sri Lanka Tourism believes this certification will serve as a mark of trust, safety and assurance to all international guests. Hotels with the certification are encouraged to display the certificate with the QR code that can be easily accessed by all guests.

‘Safe & Secure’ certified Level 1 hotel

From all the ‘Safe & Secure’ certified hotels, these are the accommodation service providers who will provide accommodation services exclusively for international tourists during the first 14 days of their stay. The level 1 hotels cannot accept bookings from locals and also are not allowed to hold any events or banquet functions for locals. International travellers are allowed to stay in any number of ‘Safe & Secure’ Certified Level 1 hotels during the initial 14 days of their stay. Visit srilanka.travel/helloagain for the complete list of Level 1 hotels.

As Sri Lanka opens its borders for international visitors, it will be mandatory for them to have a pre-booking at a ‘Safe & Secure’ Certified Level 1 hotel.

Process of applying for visa for international travellers

Visitors planning to visit Sri Lanka must apply for their visas online through the Immigration ETA portal (www.eta.gov.lk). Before applying for visa, potential visitors are required to have a confirmed hotel booking, pre-purchased PCR tests and a mandatory COVID-19 insurance cover.

The cost per PCR test will be $ 40 and pre-purchase PCR tests depending on the number of days of stay (eg: pay for 2 PCR tests for 7 days stay and 3 PCR tests if the travel exceeds 7 days).  Mandatory COVID-19 insurance cover from People’s Insurance PLC will cost $ 12 for a policy of $ 50,000 for a period of one month. Visitors are advised by Sri Lanka Tourism to contact their ‘Safe and Secure Level 1’ hotel or travel agent when making their booking. Upon the payment of the PCR tests and insurance premium, the hotel will issue a reference number which the visitors need to include in their visa form under the section ‘contact details’. There you will be asked for ‘address in Sri Lanka’ under which you need to indicate your hotel name, address and the reference number issued by the hotel confirming the payment for mandatory PCR and insurance premium.

Sri Lanka Tourism has made it mandatory for the 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 stay) and Insurance premium of $12 for a cover of $50,000 for one month.

Going forward the visa process will be directed through the Sri Lanka Tourism’s mobile app; ‘Visit Sri Lanka’.

PCR testing for International visitors

All visitors, prior to boarding, will have to carry a negative PCR test result from an accredited laboratory 96 hours before their departure. This report will be checked at the respective airport (BIA or Mattala). The first of the prepaid PCR tests would be carried out on-arrival at the guest’s hotel; prior to check-in. The second PCR test would be conducted 5-7 days after, or if any symptoms should develop before. If a test should result as positive, initial isolation would be accommodated at the hotel; and if necessary, transfers to a private hospital or a designated hotel to be quarantined; would be arranged. Costs to be covered via your COVID-19 insurance, already paid for at the time of visa issuance. Currently no exceptions are made for vaccinations taken; all safety protocols should be adhered to regardless.

Visiting sites and attractions

Sri Lanka Tourism with the tourism industry has created a bio-bubble for international visitors to explore multiple sites and attractions in Sri Lanka: This include places such as, Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Yala, Udawalawe, Kaudulla and Wilpaththu National Parks, Mirissa Whale Watching, Sigiriya Fortress, Anuradhapura (excluding ‘Sri Maha Bodhiya’) and Polonnaruwa to name a few. (Visit srilanka.travel/helloagain for complete list of approved sites).

Connecting with Sri Lanka Tourism for updates

Sri Lanka Tourism will take every possible step to provide the international visitors to the paradise island an amazing time while ensuring their safety, providing a safe and secure operational environment for the service providers of the tourism industry and ensuring that local communities are protected and secured. All information related to the re-opening for international travel are listed on srilanka.travel/helloagain along with important notices to the industry. Thus Sri Lanka Tourism invites all international travellers, industry stakeholders to connect with its social media and official channels to obtain timely, authentic information.



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HNB joins CBSL to promote ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ campaign in Kandy

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HNB PLC once again joined the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) to promote the ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ campaign to raise awareness and encourage the public in the Kandy district towards a cashless payment ecosystem.

HNB, together with other financial institutions and telecommunication partners, participated in the day-long event held at the Kandy City Center. The bank raised awareness regarding its LANKAQR integrated HNB SOLO payment app while onboarding merchants during the promotional campaign.

“During the early stages of the pandemic we witnessed many of our customers and members of the public seamlessly adopt our cashless and contactless payment app HNB SOLO. With COVID and the subsequent launch of the ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ campaign the number of users of these types of systems have increased exponentially.

“Given that the mutual vision of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and HNB is for a financially and technologically empowered Sri Lanka, HNB is proud to serve as an enthusiastic partner to roll out LANKAQR island-wide. The fact that we now have merchants in the cultural capital of Sri Lanka making this shift is another major milestone in this digitalization journey,” HNB Deputy General Manager – Retail and SME Banking, Sanjay Wijemanne said.

 

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ComBank’s ATM network sets new records for cash dispensed during festive season

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The automated teller machine (ATM) network of Commercial Bank of Ceylon dispensed a record Rs 8.818 billion on 9th and 10th April 2021, shattering the previous records for the highest and second highest cash disbursements for a 24-hour period, as Sri Lanka’s leading private bank facilitated the celebration of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

The disbursements of Rs 4.498 billion on April 9 and Rs 4.320 billion on the following day represented a substantial increase over the single-day values recorded in previous years.

In total, Commercial Bank dispensed Rs 41.748 billion via its ATM network between 1st and 15th April 2021 at an average of Rs 2.783 billion per day, reaffirming the indispensable role it plays in the lives of Sri Lankans, as well as the reliability and robustness of the network. On seven of these 15 days the network dispensed more than Rs 2 billion a day, and on five days disbursements exceeded Rs 3 billion a day, the Bank said.

Comprising of 890 ATMs, the network processed 2.434 million transactions over the 15 days at an average of 168,988 transactions a day, while on 9th April, the number of transactions processed totalled 233,990 at an average of 9,749 transactions per hour or 162 transactions per minute.

The first Sri Lankan bank to be listed among the Top 1000 Banks of the World and the only Sri Lankan bank to be so listed for 10 years consecutively, Commercial Bank operates a network of 268 branches in Sri Lanka. The Bank’s overseas operations encompass Bangladesh, where the bank operates 19 outlets; Myanmar, where it has a Microfinance company in Nay Pyi Taw; and the Maldives, where the bank has a fully-fledged Tier I Bank with a majority stake.

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‘Ceylinco VIP Cyber Tharu’ to showcase Sri Lankan talent

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Ceylinco General Insurance has announced an online competition with a novel concept to showcase Sri Lankan talent by providing a platform for them with the opportunity to win handsome cash prizes.

“This time, our effort is to organize an online competition that provides an opportunity for Sri Lankan people to display their talent and also to identify hidden talents whilst rewarding them. There will be five overall winners whose prize money will be over Rs. 1 million and each category winner will get Rs 100,000/-. Ten randomly picked voters too will receive handsome cash awards,” said Patrick Alwis, chairman CEO of Ceylinco General Insurance.

The guidelines and the criteria of the competition were announced recently through a dedicated website and other social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, twitter, You Tube as well as LinkedIn. Contestants can perform under five categories, namely, singing, dancing, instrumental performances, fashion modelling and funny videos / Standup comedy. Individuals over 18 years could perform under the individual category whilst the group category will have no age limit.

Under the group category either families or a group of friends could take part. Each entry will have to be specially recorded for this competition. Prior to recording the performance, they should download the image of the logo and have it displayed prominently in the background. Performances could be recorded using a smart phone or a video cam.

 

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