The first group of tourists since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic arrived in Sri Lanka today.
Ukrainian Airlines SkyUp landed at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport in Mattala with 185 tourists.
The Ministry of Tourism said the tourists are set to stay in Sri Lanka between 10- 14 days.
The flight was welcomed with a water salute while cultural dancing performances had been organized in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Tea Board to welcome and entertain the tourists.
SkyUp Airlines plans to operate charter flights to Sri Lanka up to the end of March 2021.
“As the civil airport operator, Airport & Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) (Private) Limited – (AASL) made all required arrangements to facilitate the international flights and international tourists. These arrangements have been made according to the health guidelines of the Sri Lanka health authorities. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 global pandemic AASL is geared up to develop and promote the international airports in Sri Lanka. The Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport has been identified as a key strategic international airport that has great potential to be developed as one of the most preferred exotic tourism-based destinations soon,” Major General (Rtd) G. A. Chandrasiri, Chairman of AASL said.
Sri Lanka was closed to foreign tourists after the first outbreak in March 2020, which prompted all the international airports in the country to be closed as a precautionary measure.
The Government later decided to reopen the country for tourists from today, via a pilot project to ascertain the number of flights and passengers’ Sri Lanka could handle in the midst of the pandemic.
Russia, which was set to send the first group of tourists to Sri Lanka, suspended the flight, delaying it until 31 December 2020. (Colombo Gazette)