Latest Covid wave and inter-provincial travel restrictions invite cancelations and departures by tourists

 Tuesday, May 18, 2021 


The latest wave of COVID-19 and inter-provincial travel restrictions has invited a lot of cancelations and departures by tourists.

Those willing to stay are also obstructed by the inter-provincial travel plan which might turn into an inter-district plan if the situation gets any worse.

Prebudda Jayasinghe, Secretary of the 150-member Association of Small and Medium Enterprises in Tourism, said that even inquiries from European countries withered after Sri Lanka opened up to Indian arrivals. There were also cancelations, particularly after some countries, including Dubai, Italy and Singapore, banned arrivals from Sri Lanka.

Now, his members are facing financial difficulties, Mr. Jayasinghe said. The moratorium on debt repayment is ending in September. Mr. Jayasinghe said, “We need a credit line to pay loans. All the companies will have to shut down by October if we don’t get relief, such as if all our loans and leases can be converted into one loan to be repaid in the long-term or if the moratorium can be extended.”

Most long-stay tourists are leaving because they don’t want to be confined to provinces, said Ajeet de Soyza, Chief Marketing Officer of Lanka Travel Mart. Mr. Soyza said, “Airlines are cancelling flights to Colombo so some of whom have already planned are in a dilemma or are cancelling altogether. While guests can’t come, hotels are not refunding.”

Mr. Soyza said, “If tourism is important to Sri Lanka, the authorities should have a better mechanism in place to handle tourists in situations like this. Imagine if you go to another country and this sort of thing happens?”

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