The promoter involved in bringing down tourists from Ukraine had kept the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) in the dark on the itineraries.
SLTDA Chairperson Kimarli Fernando had written to the Minister of Tourism Prasanna Ranatunga questioning the failure by the promoter to keep the SLTDA informed.
While the name of the promoter is not mentioned in the letter the Ukrainians have been brought to Sri Lanka as part of a pilot project by former Ambassador Udayanga Weeratunga.
The Ukrainians had gone on excursions to Mirissa for whale watching and Yala.
However, in the letter to the Minister, Fernando notes that the SLTDA got to know only through the media that a group of tourists from the Ukrainian arrivals went on excursions to Mirissa for whale watching and Yala.
“The agreement at the Task Force Meeting was for the tour organisers to provide SLTDA detailed itineraries in advance, including details of the drivers and guides who would be involved in these excursions to be relayed to the regional health authorities for screening and quarantine purposes,’ Kimarli Fernando said in the letter leaked to the media.
Fernando said that the Director General of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority had attempted to obtain the necessary information in this regard from the travel agents, but to no avail.
She said they came to know that private boats had been arranged to take the tourists for whale watching and 28 safari jeeps had been arranged to take them inside Yala.
However, the SLTDA had not been informed of the move by the promoter of the project nor the Travel Agents concerned.
“We are gravely concerned and seek your urgent intervention as when we requested information it was informed that he is working with the Presidential Task Force. We meanwhile take it that the Presidential Taskforce has informed the health officials and Covid Task Force in this regard and necessary protocols are being followed,” Fernando said in the letter to the Minister.
Fernando said in the letter that it was expected that all details related to excursions are provided to the SLTDA before the commencement of such tours to enable the authority to keep the Ministry of Health and Covid Task Force informed. (Colombo Gazette)