We should consider having opening the Airport for tourism if COVID Vaccine becomes a success – Minister of Tourism

The Hon. Minister of Tourism Prasanna Ranatunga stated that we should consider opening the Airport for tourism when UK and Europe initiate the COVID vaccination process, going forward the world should learn to live with it.

The Minister stated the above today (02) at the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Tourism when MP Premitha Bandara Tennakoon brought before the committee the news that UK has been declared as the 1st country to approve Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine soon to be followed by Europe and the US. The MP highlighted that with the availability of a vaccine, soon tourists will begin to fly to destinations and thus Sri Lanka tourism should plan to benefit from it.

The Ministerial Consultative Committee chaired by Hon. Minister of Tourism Prasanna Ranatunga was attended by 18 Members of Parliament such as Geetha Kumarasinghe, Diana Gamage M. Udayakumar, Chandima Weerakkody, Shanakiyan Rasamanickam, Madura Vithanage, Premitha Bandara Tennakoon.

Addressing the Committee, MP Gamage raised her concerns over the safety of tourists who visit the Country. Responding to the concern raised, SLTDA Chair Kimarli Fernando stated that for the 1st time H.E the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has appointed a DIG for tourism.

Adding to it the SLTDA Chair also highlighted that they have created Sri Lankas first ever mobile app to assist tourists utilizing technology going forward. Emphasizing on it, she stated that the App consists of an “emergency button” where the location of the tourist will be shared with the nearest police station. The App Version One of the Sri Lanka Tourism Travel App is scheduled to be made available by the 3rd quarter of 2021.

Addressing the Committee Batticaloa MP Shanakiyan Rasamanickam highlighted the need of a blueprint to develop tourism in the North and the East as it lacks tourist attraction to a large extent. He also proposed to initiate the Talaimannar ferry service for the purpose of developing tourism.

Adding to it, SLTDA Chair stated that they have already identified 4956 new sites including the Ramayana trail in Sri Lanka and have already spoken to the Indian ambassador to promote it in India.  Accordingly, the Minister of Tourism Prasanna Ranatunga suggested that a separate meeting to be taken to discuss regarding the developments pertaining to the North and the East.

The chairman of Airport and Aviation Services Major General G.A. Chandrasiri state that two separate cubicles have been established already to facilitate 1st class passengers and business class passengers and it will operate as soon as the airport reopen.  He stated this in response to the issue raised by MP Diana Gamage with regard to the long que passengers have to experience at the immigration.

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