The international travel industry has come across a fundamental crisis with the increase in the number of cases of the virus across the globe and with people opting to stay at home due to the fear of contracting the virus. As of today, the Coronavirus cases have exceeded 170,000 with Sri Lanka accounting for 28 of them. Sri Lanka has been a tourism hotspot for many years and would be sugar coating the truth to say that Sri Lankan tourism is not directly affected by it.
As mentioned in the previous article, there was a decline in the arrivals at the start of 2020 and 55% of it accounts for Chinese tourist arrivals. This is expected to decline further with the temporary halt of on-arrival visa for tourists, an action taken by the government of Sri Lanka to control the spreading of the virus.
The suspension of on-arrival visa was declared on 10th of March upon the confirmation of the first local patient with the Coronavirus, who had been 52 years old a tour guide reportedly stayed with a group of Italian tourists. He is currently admitted to the Infectious disease hospital Angoda. On 13th March three were confirmations on Corona positive in the country. Among them, a 41 year old Sri Lankan male who arrived from Germany and other two had arrived from Italy. On 14th March five more confirmed Coronavirus patients in Sri Lanka and by 16th of March all reported confirmations were 28 cases with Coronavirus positive.
A travel ban had also been imposed on travellers from Iran, Italy and South Korea for two weeks. Furthermore, travellers from several countries of continental Europe including Spain,Norway,Germany,Austria,France,Netherlands,Switzerland were included in travel restrictions extending to the United Kingdom by 15th of March. Sri Lankan Airlines have cancelled scheduled flights to several countries owing to Coronavirus fears.
The Sri Lankan foreign ministry also issued a notice to inform the suspension of the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), which is to be taken into effect from 14th March 2020, for foreigners who hold ordinary or normal passports until further notice. However, a foreigner who holds a diplomatic or official passport is exempted from this suspension, including all citizens of Singapore, Maldives and Seychelles.
The government has also advised the public to avoid travel unless it is very necessary. The government had decided to lock down the country for several days starting from 16th March. By now all schools,universities,preschools and other educational institutions for two weeks depending on the gravity of the issue. Throughout the country all private tution classes and tutorials are closed for two weeks.
The Coronavirus outbreak further affected drastically on the tourism industry which was gradually healing after Easter Sunday Attacks in 2019. Especially travel restrictions permitted on countries had completely alienated the country from tourism. The government's suspension on flights to mainland China and pilgrimages to India are significant in this regard. The calling off of the first class match in progress between England and Sri Lanka was immediately abandoned owing to the Coronavirus outbreak in the country. Moreover the immediate lock down of Dehiwela Zoo,botanical gardens and other tourist destinations are a part of this.The catastrophic Virus over the world has knocked down the tourism industry and it is immensely diluting Sri Lanka as the country mostly depends on a tourist booting economy.
However, if you are to travel here are some protective measures to be taken according to the WHO: