Friday, February 26, 2021

India-SL air travel bubble in final stages

An air travel bubble between Sri Lanka and India aimed at boosting tourism is in its final stage, Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said yesterday. 

He told the Daily FT another round of discussion to resume flights and to launch a travel bubble between SL and India was discussed with Indian High Commissioner Dr. Gopal Bagle, Aviation State Minister D.V.Chanaka, Tourism Ministry Secretary S.Hettiarachchi, Aviation State Ministry Secretary Madhava Devasurendra and Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando on Wednesday.

“The arrangement for an air travel bubble between the two countries has now reached the final stages. Once completed and in force, we are confident tourist arrivals from India will pick up,” Ranatunga added.

India is the largest source for tourists for Sri Lanka, with 355,002 arrivals in 2019. 

The Indian Government proposed to launch a tourist air bubble between the two neighbouring countries in early February. Thereafter, authorities of both countries commenced exploring possibilities of initiating an air travel bubble, adhering to COVID-19 health and safety guidelines to support revive and resume tourism and aviation industries that were severely hit by the pandemic. 

At present, no travellers are allowed from India and only two SriLankan Airlines cargo flights are operating to India.

Sri Lanka is a favourite destination for India’s leisure travel market, with its value for money hotel rates, bargain shopping and wide variety of climates and environments, ranging from mist-swathed mountains to lush jungles teeming with wildlife.

26/02/21 Charumini de Silva/Daily FT

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