Rules deter inbound health tourism

Colombo, Sri Lanka - November 2019: macro close up of official country entrance stamp in passport, shallow depth of field (Colombo, Sri Lanka - November 2019: macro close up of official country entrance stamp in passport, shallow depth of field, ASCII

The Sri Lankan Government has proposed a six month visa to tourists instead of the current one-month visa, once the island reopens. A minimum 14-day stay in Sri Lanka will also be mandatory according to a new guidelines report prepared by the Ministry of Health and Sri Lanka Tourism. This is likely to deter all but the very determined health tourist.

The rules include an online visa process that will be mandatory for all international tourists to Sri Lanka, via the online visa application system, Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA). They will also have to download an associated smartphone app.

Only visitors with pre-booked and pre-paid booking for a Level 1 hotel for first seven days and thereafter the next seven days in a Level 1 or 2 hotel certified as safe and secure accommodation will be granted visas.

In addition to the visa fee, cost for three PCR and/or Antigen Tests will be levied on each traveller to cover the cost of the tests to be conducted and there will also be compulsory COVID-19 insurance cover for a minimum of one month.

The mandatory Antigen and/or PCR Test is on arrival and there will be another mandatory test 5-7 days after arrival. If deemed necessary by health officials, an additional test is to be conducted 10-14 days after arrival.

In the event the stay is over 14 days, the guest is permitted to stay in any accommodation of his/her choice after the 15th day.

No expenses relating to any health emergency will be borne by the Government of Sri Lanka during the tourists’ stay in Sri Lanka.

In the event of any illness during the first 14 days of stay due to COVID-19 or any other illness the tourist will be admitted to University Hospital Kotalawala Defence University, Boralesgamuwa or any other hospital or location decided by the Ministry of Health.

In the event of any illness other than COVID-19 and after 14 days the tourist can select any private hospital and payment can be made via the guest’s private medical insurance or personal funds.

It is mandatory that all international visitors have evidence of a negative PCR test 72 hours before arrival. A negative PCR test report will be required along with the boarding pass, passport and Visa.

All travellers must carry an adequate number of face masks with them and wear a face mask throughout, from the time of arriving at the departing airport until leaving the arriving airport.

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority has suggested the re-opening of the country’s airports for international visitors from January 1, 2021 under health guidelines. A comprehensive set of guidelines for approval by health authorities has been submitted.