Over 400 crew of French ships to visit national parks in Sri Lanka

Over 400 crew members of two French ships have have been given approval to visit national parks in Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sri Lanka and the Embassy of France in Sri Lanka have agreed on a diplomatic level to facilitate crew members of two French vessels visiting Sri Lanka.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote to the Secretaries of Health and Tourism on 24.05.2021 informing them about the French crew members arriving in two vessels from 7th to 11th June to visit Sri Lanka under a “Bio Safety Bubble”.

They have requested to visit the national parks in Yala, Minneriya-Kawudulla, Udawalawa and the Eco Park in Habarana. Upon the request, the State Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Conservation approved 422 French crew members to visit the National Parks under strict bio-bubble conditions. The Sri Lanka Navy will ensure adherence to the health guidelines throughout the visit.

SLTDA said that as this is a diplomatic delegation its role is limited to coordinating the visit with the assistance of the Sri Lanka Navy.

“Our attention has been drawn to certain social media posts being widely circulated in the public domain where reference is drawn to tourists brought in by certain individuals. The posts referred to are devoid of truth. We note the wide publicity given to such false posts. There is no such request nor approval given,” the Tourism Ministry said.

SLTDA said that the ability to visit a tourist site requires the approval of the respective line agency. In this case the Wildlife Department.

In the event the line agency approves only, can the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority grant approval to visit a site.

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority said it continues to work to ensure tourism is supported in a responsible manner and seek the support of the general public to abstain from circulating false statements. (Colombo Gazette)