Travel Updates: Looking to the Future

Although the majority of countries around the world remain in isolation due to Covid-19, we are looking ahead to happier times when global travel resumes again and we can continue to share the many delights of Sri Lanka with your clients.

We are all aware of the impact coronavirus has had on travel, and we know that we have a long road ahead until the travel industry returns to normal, but in the meantime, we will be doing all we can to satisfy and surpass the new safety standards that travellers will expect from their holiday providers.

The Sri Lankan Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) is assessing all Sri Lanka ground operators, via an independent review conducted by KPMG Sri Lanka, and in mid-November 2020 we became one of the first Sri Lanka Destination Management Companies to receive the ‘Safe and Secure’ certificate.

Click here to download our Safe and Secure certificate

This certificate signifies that we have put in place comprehensive health & safety guidelines to safeguard our clients against Covid-19 during their Sri Lanka holiday.

Sri Lanka reopened its borders to international tourists on 21st January 2021, with a series of protocols and guidelines in place to ensure the safety of both visitors and residents as tourism resumes. Whilst there are certain restrictions in place, every effort has been made to ensure that visitors can still have an enjoyable and safe experience in Sri Lanka.

These guidelines do not include a mandatory quarantine period, and providing the PCR test results are negative, your clients will be able to move between a variety of ‘Safe and Secure’ hotels and visit key tourist sites during their stay when travelling in a secure bio-bubble with one of our private chauffeur-guides.

Only level 1 ‘Safe and Secure’ hotels can be used for the first 14 days of the holiday (seven days for fully vaccinated travellers, 14 days for non-vaccinated travellers), but after this initial period, tourists who have had negative PCR test results can move about freely without restrictions.

Travellers who are fully-vaccinated against Covid-19 (those who have had both doses of an approved Covid-19 vaccine, with the last dose administered at least two weeks before traveling to Sri Lanka) have even greater freedoms, with just one PCR test conducted on arrival. As long as the result of the on-arrival test is negative, fully-vaccinated travellers are free to explore the island as they wish.

In this document, you will find a comprehensive summary of the new guidelines for tourists. Sri Lanka Tourism have also released a video showing the new protocols for Sri Lanka holidays which gives you an idea of what to expect from a Sri Lanka trip with the current health and safety measures in place.

We recognise that some of your clients will wish to plan their Sri Lanka holiday for a later time when there are fewer health & safety measures in place, or when we can confidently expect things to revert to normality. Our FlexiBook policy covers travel dates up to mid-2022 and enables your clients to freely adjust their itinerary in the run-up to their holiday should they so wish.

Contact your TFG consultant or email us at enquiries@thefabulousgetaway.com if you have any questions, or for more detailed information regarding the new health and safety precautions put in place by ourselves and the Sri Lankan government to safeguard tourists visiting Sri Lanka. You can track Sri Lanka’s coronavirus updates using the timeline below, or via the Sri Lanka Tourism Alliance tracker.

Sri Lanka’s Covid-19 Timeline

6th April:
  • Fully-vaccinated travellers can leave their level 1 ‘Safe and Secure’ hotel after just one night and are then free to travel around Sri Lanka as they wish if the result of their on-arrival PCR test is negative

18th March:
  • Fully-vaccinated travellers can leave level 1 ‘Safe and Secure’ hotels and move about the island freely as long as they have proof of both vaccination doses and their on arrival and day 7 PCR tests are both negative

17th February:
  • The temporary travel restriction applied to tourists travelling to Sri Lanka from the United Kingdom is lifted by the Sri Lankan government, with immediate effect. Visitors arriving from the U.K. are now welcome in Sri Lanka, subject to adhering to the new guidelines for tourists that were put in place by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority in January.

21st January:
  • Sri Lanka reopens its borders to international tourists (excluding the U.K.) with a series of new health & safety protocols in place to safeguard tourists and residents alike as tourism resumes.
  • There are 7,700 active cases of coronavirus in Sri Lanka, with a total of 47,215 recoveries and 274 deaths to date.

18th January:
  • Tourists from the U.K. are not allowed to enter Sri Lanka until further notice
  • Tourists arriving into the U.K. from Sri Lanka must undergo a 14-day self-isolation period

2021

7th December:
  • There are 7,277 active cases of coronavirus in Sri Lanka, with a total of 20,460 recoveries and 140 deaths to date.

28th November:
  • Sri Lanka added to the U.K.’s travel corridor list for residents of Scotland as well. All U.K. residents no longer have to complete a 14-day self-isolation period after returning from Sri Lanka to the U.K.

21st November:
  • Sri Lanka added to the U.K.’s travel corridor list for residents of England, Wales and Northern Island, meaning that those returning from Sri Lanka to England, Wales or Northern Island no longer have to complete a 14-day self-isolation period upon arrival.

9th November:
  • Curfew lifted for most of the Western Province, excluding some high-risk areas.

3rd November:
  • Sri Lankan government rolls out a new set of health and safety guidelines in relation to activities in public spaces including shops, restaurants etc.

1st November:
  • Curfew imposed for the entire Western Province until 5am on the 9th November.

22nd October:
  • Sri Lankan government suspend the requirement for all passengers departing Sri Lanka to present evidence of a negative PCR test.

4th October:
  • Due to the emergence of a cluster of Covid-19 cases, curfew has been implemented in several high-risk areas of the Western Province.

23rd September:
  • Germany’s Federal Foreign Office removes Sri Lanka from list of risk areas.

10th August:
  • Sri Lanka receives the ‘Safe Travels’ stamp from the World Travel & Tourism Council in recognition of the comprehensive health and safety measures the government has proposed to safeguard tourists during their holiday.

5th August:
  • There are 299 active cases of coronavirus in Sri Lanka, with 2,524 recoveries and 11 deaths to date.

23rd July:
  • The Fabulous Getaway finalises its health & safety standard operating procedures for post-Covid Sri Lanka holidays, in preparation for the airports hopefully opening to tourists in September. These procedures apply to transport, experiences, customer care and accommodation, and a detailed PDF outlining the specific policies can be sent to you upon request.

16th July:
  • Sri Lanka passes the 2000 mark for recovered coronavirus patients with a total of 656 cases still under treatment and 2007 recoveries. The death toll stands at 11 currently.

14th July:
  • The government decides to indefinitely postpone the reopening of the Bandaranaike International Airport following the spike in coronavirus cases in the island. The move follows the suspension of all repatriation flights earlier this week citing a lack of space.
  • There are 666 active coronavirus cases in the country (with 1988 recoveries and 11 deaths to date).

12th July:
  • Sri Lanka sees a spike in coronavirus cases as numbers stand at 625 active cases (1981 recoveries and 11 deaths to date).

9th July:
  • There are 359 active coronavirus cases in Sri Lanka (with 1980 recoveries and 11 deaths to date).
  • Accommodation providers registered with the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) have been given the option of requesting to be audited for Health and Safety certification, in order to permit foreign visitor bookings.

25th June:
  • There are 397 active coronavirus cases in Sri Lanka (with 1613 recoveries and 11 deaths to date).

12th June:
  • There are 716 active coronavirus cases in Sri Lanka, all of whom are receiving medical treatment (with 1,150 recoveries and 11 deaths to date).

8th June:
  • Sri Lankan government announce the re-opening of the island’s national parks from 15th June 2020.
  • Sri Lankan government announce that travel between the different Sri Lankan districts is allowed.

5th June:
  • Sri Lankan government announce the reopening of Sri Lanka’s borders for tourists on 1st August 2020.
  • Sri Lankan government remove the automatic two-week quarantine for tourists and propose new pre-arrival and on-arrival procedures for tourists:

New pre-arrival procedures
  1. Tourists will have to take a PCR test 72 hours or less before their departure to Sri Lanka
  2. Tourists will not be allowed to board their flight to Sri Lanka without proof of a negative result from this PCR test
  3. A free PCR test will also be carried out when tourists arrive at the airport in Sri Lanka
  4. Tourists must stay in accommodation close to their arrival airport for the first night of their holiday whilst their on-arrival PCR test is being processed
  5. Social distancing, temperature checks and disinfection will be carried out upon arrival at the airport, and all staff and tourists will be required to wear clean face-masks and sanitize their hands regularly
  6. All luggage and travel documents will be disinfected prior to tourists leaving the airport
  7. Should a tourist test positive for coronavirus whilst in Sri Lanka, arrangements will be made for them to receive appropriate treatment at a hospital or specifically repurposed quarantine hotel (we anticipate a flat-rate charge of $100 per night for patients)

New on-arrival procedures
  1. On-arrival visas on a free-of-charge basis have been suspended until further notice - tourists must apply for their visa online in advance of their arrival
  2. The visa fee has been increased to $100 to cover the cost of the PCR test on arrival in Sri Lanka
  3. All tourists need to book their holiday in advance with a Sri Lanka Tourism-registered agency or online with their hotels and register their itinerary online prior to their arrival in Sri Lanka
  4. A further registration process reconfirming the itinerary will be conducted at the airport by officials to aid any track and trace required later
  5. All tourists will be requested to download a tracing mobile app
  6. All tourists must have proof of valid travel insurance that includes health and hospitalisation coverage
  7. All tourists must be able to show a valid return air ticket
  8. All tourists must be visiting Sri Lanka for a minimum of five nights

  • Sri Lankan government release a first-draft 80-page document outlining proposed new health and safety procedures for tourism in Sri Lanka.
  • TFG send out a newsletter to all partners reflecting the information above.

1st June:
  • Sri Lankan government announce that curfew will be re-imposed island-wide for the two-day Poya holiday on 4th and 5th June

31st May:
  • PCR testing starts for all passengers and airline crew arriving into Sri Lanka’s Bandaranaike and Mattala International Airports, as per guidelines of the Sri Lankan Health Authorities

26th May:
  • Curfew is relaxed in all areas of the island for 18 hours per day, excluding 10pm – 4am

22nd May:
  • Sri Lankan government inform airlines that international airline / corporate jet operations, for the purpose of technical landing / refuelling only, are permitted at Mattala and Ratmalana International Airports. Airline crew rest permitted under stringent guidelines.
  • Sri Lankan government confirm that all international airports in Sri Lanka will be maintained to the public health standards according to the CAASL.

13th May:
  • Whilst the home-working model continues for most employees, some TFG staff return to the office under strict new guidelines.

11th May:
  • Residents of Colombo, Gampaha and Puttlam allowed to go out one day per week for essentials, and all workers across the public and private sectors are allowed to return to work.
  • TFG commences a two-day deep clean of the office.

4th May:
  • Curfew is relaxed for daylight hours in most areas of the island, excluding weekends.

24th April:
  • TFG announces intended new health and safety guidelines for post-Covid-19 trips, including testing chauffeur-guides for coronavirus immediately before tours, vehicle sanitisation and the use of face-masks for all guides.

20th April:
  • TFG starts creating a health and safety policy for post-Covid-19 holidays.

18th April:
  • Sri Lankan government release intended health and safety guidelines to be adopted across businesses after curfew has been ended.

10th April:
  • TFG FlexiBook now includes over 90 properties, and many have extended their special cancellation policy to all bookings made before 30th June 2020.

1st April:
  • All visas extended until 12th May for foreign nationals who remain in Sri Lanka.
  • Several hotel groups suspend their operations but continue to take future bookings.

28th March:
  • All those who were travelling in Sri Lanka with TFG are now home safely.

23rd March:
  • All visa issuances for foreign nationals temporarily suspended. All previously-granted visas temporarily suspended.

22nd March:
  • All inbound flights are halted. Departure flights continue to operate as scheduled.
  • Travel between districts is banned, with the exception of tourists travelling to the airport.

20th March:
  • Island-wide curfew structure announced and imposed.
  • Tourists with a valid airline ticket are allowed to travel to the airport during curfew.
  • Tourists and locals are banned from doing any excursions, activities or leisure trips.

18th March:
  • A 30-day visa extension is given to all tourists already in Sri Lanka.
  • Any tourists who arrived in Sri Lanka between 1st – 15th March 2020 are asked to register with the police.

17th March:
  • Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation Authority bans airlines from carrying to Sri Lanka passengers travelling from Qatar, Bahrain and Canada. Airlines also advised not to carry passengers who have been to those countries in the two weeks prior to their flight.
  • All types of visa issuance temporarily suspended. All previously-granted Electronic Travel Authorisations (ETAs) temporarily suspended.

16th March:
  • Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation Authority bans airlines from carrying to Sri Lanka passengers travelling from the U.K., Norway and Belgium. Airlines also advised not to carry passengers who have been to those countries in the two weeks prior to their flight.
  • Mandatory quarantine procedure imposed for all passengers arriving into Sri Lanka.
  • All museums in Sri Lanka are told to close.
  • TFG begins new home-working model.

15th March:
  • Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation Authority bans airlines from carrying to Sri Lanka passengers travelling from France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands and Austria. Airlines also advised not to carry passengers who have been to those countries in the two weeks prior to their flight.
  • All national parks and botanical gardens in Sri Lanka are told to close.
  • Jaffna International Airport is closed.

14th March:
  • Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation Authority bans airlines from carrying to Sri Lanka passengers travelling from Italy, Iran or South Korea. Airlines also advised not to carry passengers who have been to those countries in the two weeks prior to their flight.
  • TFG closes the office and announces home-working until further notice.

13th March:
  • England test tour of Sri Lanka called off at the request of the England and Wales Cricket Board.

12th March:
  • TFG launches FlexiBook, a special cancellation policy for bookings made before 31st May 2020.
  • TFG suspends non-essential international travel for staff.

6th March:
  • TFG creates Covid-19 taskforce.

3rd March:
  • Tourists travelling from or transiting through Italy, South Korea or Iran will be quarantined for 14 days upon arrival in Sri Lanka.

28th January:
  • Tourists travelling to Sri Lanka from China can no longer obtain a visa on arrival.
  • All passengers have to pass through a temperature scanner before entering Immigration.
  • If any passengers travelling to Sri Lanka are thought to be showing symptoms of the virus, they will be screened by a medical officer upon their arrival at the airport.
  • Only those taking a flight will be permitted to enter Sri Lanka’s international airports.