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Traveling to Sri Lanka in 2021 Amid Covid-19

The isle nation of Sri Lanka is finally open to foreigners and tourists from countries worldwide. Prasanna Ranatunga, the Sri Lankan Minister of Tourism, officially announced during a press conference at the start of 2021 that the countries’ borders are confirmed to reopen from January 21. Soon after, both international airports of Sri Lanka reopened on the same day.

Sri Lanka Is Open to Foreigners

While the resurgence of coronavirus cases has made it obligatory for the Sri Lankan authorities to ban all forms of private and state functions across the nation for 2 weeks as of April 25, 2021, the current regulations on arriving visitors remain unchanged.

Inbound tourism to Sri Lanka has stood at a stagnation as the emergence of new coronavirus variants and resurgences halt the recovery plans for international tourism. Ever since Sri Lanka opened its borders to foreigners on January 21, 2021, it has witnessed approximately 10,000 arrivals to date.

Despite the current situations regarding Covid-19, the Sri Lankan Tourism Minister, Prasanna Ranatunga, informed the reporters that border rules and airport operations on tourist arrivals will be upheld according to the health authorities’ recommendations.

He even mentioned that any visitor who comes to Sri Lanka and becomes infected with the virus will be stopped from socializing. However, presently the number of tourist arrivals seems to be at a halt. Nonetheless, Sri Lanka continues to follow the recommendations of the health sector.

Ranatunga expressed his concerns in the media and talked about how the livelihood of over 3 million people depends on the Sri Lankan tourism industry. He feels that it is their nationwide responsibility to consider the needs and wants of their citizens who are dependent on this industry.

Sri Lanka even formulated a bio bubble as a significant part of the efforts to avert the deadly Covid-19 pandemic from spreading. This was anticipated to give visitors a certain amount of privilege and freedom to travel within Sri Lanka under the observation of the mandatory safety protocols.

Even though there is no specific or minimum time frame that visitors are advised to spend, individuals traveling from abroad are required to stay in a government-approved resort or hotel for at least 2 weeks upon arriving.

This means that people coming to Sri Lanka for a short while will only stay at the resort throughout. Conversely, people who intend to stay longer have more freedom to move within the country after completing their 2-weeks semi-quarantine.

Sri Lanka Entry Restrictions

Australia or Hong Kong are countries where people must quarantine upon arrival and stay in their hotel throughout this time. However, the regulations in Sri Lanka are a tad laxer. The foreign guests will get free rein on the premises of the properties. Hence, they are free to use hotel amenities such as gyms, pools, restaurants, and salons.

Travelers are also allowed to leave hotel premises while in quarantine to go out for sightseeing, as long as they do it carefully. More than a dozen attraction and tourism sites are accessible to foreign tourists but within limitations.

Even though Sri Lanka is taking care of all the additional security measures for visitors, it is doing so at the cost of extra fees. In addition to the price of accommodation and flights, travelers are also liable to pay for the government-authorized health insurance ($12) in Sri Lanka and a minimum of 3 Covid-19 tests in the country at the cost of $40 each.

It is mandatory for anyone entering the country to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken at least within 96 hours of travel. Visitors are also advised to fill out an online health declaration form. On the 5th and 7th days after their arrival, guests will have to undergo tests again at their own expense. Anyone who stays longer than 7 days will be required to take a 3rd Covid-19 test in the subsequent week.

All prospective travelers to Sri Lanka must download the Visit Sri Lanka app and apply for a visa online. You can use this application to store all the essential information about hotel bookings and test results and contact tracing.

Applicants will receive their visa through email once they complete the application form and the required information and after the online payment has been made. Keep a hard or digital copy of

your visa to display to the airport officials upon arrival, along with your PCR (polymerase chain reaction) negative test result.

Sri Lanka ETA

An Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system enables foreigners to visit Sri Lanka via a fully automated application process. Travelers will receive this ETA, which is the official and recognized means of approval for short-term visits to the country.

Visitors can obtain the Sri Lankan Tourist ETA by completing an online form. An ETA holder is qualified for entry to Sri Lanka within 3 months, starting from the issuing date. The application of ETA must be electronically submitted, using any 1 of the 5 methods of submission as follows:

  1. By the applicant

  2. By a Third Party

  3. On arrival at the Sri Lanka port of entry

  4. At the head office of DI&E (Department of Immigration and Emigration) in Colombo

  5. At Sri Lanka overseas mission

Travelers from any country worldwide are now eligible to apply online without needing to visit a consulate or embassy. To get your Sri Lanka ETA visa for tourism online, you must have:

  1. Your passport with a six months' validity starting from the planned date of arrival in Sri Lanka.

  2. Your current email address to receive the authorized Sri Lanka Tourist ETA.

  3. Your debit or credit card to pay your Sri Lanka ETA fees.

A traveler planning a short business trip, vacation, or transit through must first apply and acquire a Sri Lanka ETA before arriving in Sri Lanka. The steps to be followed include:

  1. You must submit your visa application online.

  2. You must wait till you receive an acknowledgment.

    3. You will receive a referral notice or an ETA approval. You can get in touch with the Department of Emigration and Immigration for the ETA.

If your ETA gets rejected, the electronic system will automatically send the applicant a referral notification to contact their closest Sri Lanka Overseas Mission for the required aid.

Always Travel Prepared

All Sri Lanka ETA applicants are strictly instructed to abide by the necessary instructions to travel to Sri Lanka. It is strongly recommended for all applicants to consult beforehand with airlines with approval and permission to depart Sri Lanka from their respective countries.

You must also get the essential directions and check for the availability of flights beforehand to apply for your Sri Lanka ETA and avoid making unnecessary payments on the official ETA site. You must confirm your booking in a safe, secured, and authorized Level 1 Hotel for the first fourteen days of your trip.

Know that these hotels are fully trained and well-equipped to ensure you have a safe yet wonderful time on this heavenly island. Before applying for the Sri Lankan visa, your hotel booking must be confirmed. You must also have pre-purchased a compulsory Covid-19 insurance cover and PCR tests.

Your hotel will also hand over a reference number which will electronically check against your passport during the ETA application process. All visitors must note this is a compulsory requirement.

Your visa won’t be approved, nor will the fee be refunded if this procedure isn’t followed before the visa application process. All these preparations are meant to make sure visitors can enjoy a secure, safe, and pleasant holiday, so it is essential to always travel prepared in times of Covid-19.

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