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.
CBSL and IFC launch National Financial Inclusion Strategy
Sri Lanka’s first National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) aunched recently, aims to make financial services more accessible, efficient, and affordable for all households and businesses in the country.
The NFIS is a joint effort led by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka—with technical and financial assistance from IFC, a member of the World Bank Group—under the IFC-DFAT Women in Work program. The development of this strategy was a multi-stakeholder effort supported by the government of Sri Lanka.
“The National Financial Inclusion Strategy symbolizes our country’s commitment towards a better and inclusive Sri Lanka that will benefit all individuals and enterprises. I believe this strategy will complement the Government’s efforts to minimize the provincial income disparities, urban-rural inequalities, and to promote inclusive growth,” said Mahinda Rajapaksa, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.
“More importantly, this strategy prioritizes future generations, having identified financial literacy as a key pillar. The proposal to strengthen the national curriculum in this area is a positive step. Investing in the education of our younger generation is the most significant investment we can make as a nation, as this will be a particularly helpful approach to the systematic correction of the financial habits of Sri Lankans,” the Prime Minister said.
HNB – Havelock City partnership offers exclusive Ezy Pay Home Loans facility
HNB PLC has partnered with Havelock City mixed-use development project to offer prospective homeowners of state-ofthe-art luxury apartments in Stratford and Melford Towers (Phase 3 – COC certified) and Peterson and Edmonton Towers (Phase 4) with the exclusive Ezy Pay Home Loans facility.
The partnership is set to offer customers the unprecedented opportunity to make a payment of only 20% and immediately occupy the limited units available in Phase 3 of the project or invest in apartments available in Phase 4, scheduled to be completed by May 2021. Further, Havelock City will take on the customer’s interest payment for one year.
“We have witnessed an increase in the demand for apartments and are aware that there is a limited stock of units available in the heart of Colombo. Therefore, we hope that this partnership with Havelock City will offer our customers looking to invest in a home of their own the facility to either move into an apartment immediately or invest in a home of their dreams,” HNB Head of Personal Financial Services, Kanchana Karunagama said.
Prospective homeowners can make use the bank’s flexible repayment options, such as the Step-up facility, which offers a repayment option in line with the customers evolving income. Customers can also obtain a maximum repayment period of 25 years for the loan facility for an attractive interest rate starting from just 7%.
DPL lends a hand to children in Monaragala Rubber Farming Communities
As part of its ongoing efforts to empower and uplift the livelihood of its farmer co-operative societies, Dipped Products PLC (DPL) distributed school bags to the children of 1,500 smallholder rubber farmers for the 10th consecutive year, under its flagship Firstlight CSR project.
This year’s distribution recorded the largest donation of school bags, which was nearly a two-fold increase from the previous year, bringing the total value of the distribution up to nearly Rs. 1 million.
Taking place at the Pinwatta Bodimalu Viharaya in Medagama, Monaragala, this latest distribution marks the Company’s continued efforts to support the smallholder rubber farming communities, by ensuring that their essential needs are looked after.
“Especially in this time of economic uncertainty, with the nation facing significant challenges and hardships, it is truly touching to see the positive impact which we continue to have on the underprivileged smallholder rubber farming communities. We believe that programmes like Firstlight hold the key to enhancing the livelihoods of our 1500-strong rubber farmers, providing them with an improved quality of life, whilst paving the way to open up new opportunities and a brighter future. This is why, with the enthusiastic response we have received over the years, we have now also expanded this school bag distribution to include the District of Kegalle,” Dipped Products Deputy Managing Director, Pushpika Janadheera said.
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