a house on a hill with trees

As many countries shutter their proverbial border doors until Spring, Sri Lanka is going in the opposite direction, joining the long list of leisure destinations managing to open, albeit with robust safety measures.

The question is: will anyone visit, given the robustness of Sri Lanka’s plans for visitors, which include a minimum of three covid-19 tests, and an extended hotel stay.

Sri Lanka’s Official Tourism Reopening

On January 21st, 2021 – the 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century – Sri Lanka reopened its borders for international tourists. Anyone who was eligible to enter the country visa free before, is able to do so once again The big caveat is that Sri Lankan tourism is reopening in a way which offers little chance to explore anywhere outside of a hotel grounds, at least for the first 14 days. All arrivals must…

  • Submit a negative covid-19 PCR result taken within 96 hours of departure.
  • Pre-book to stay in one of 55 ‘safe and secure’ approved hotels, with transfers.
  • Purchase $12 health visa covering up to $50,000 in medical treatment.
  • Submit a health declaration form ready for arrival into Sri Lanka.
  • Be tested twice more (at hotel) during first seven days, and once more after.
  • If negative after 14 days, tourists can leave hotel and mingle with freedom.
a house on a hill

One of the main draws of Sri Lanka is getting out into the wilderness, or into the rural areas which showcase how special this land is in the global atmosphere from Kandy to Galle. Obviously, not being able to experience any of the above, beyond the grounds of an approved resort is a pretty big bummer, however understandable it may be from a health and safety perspective.

The only notable exception to Sri Lanka’s reopening is that anyone who’s been in the UK in the last 14 days is ineligible to visit. Even US visitors are welcome, which shows how seriously Sri Lankan officials are taking the UK situation.

There’s a bit of a silver lining, although one that’s somewhat sterilized. Guests can leave their quarantine hotels to visit approved tourism sites, on a timed basis, allowing some reprieve from the grounds of the hotel, which locals are barred from. Plus, some hotels are in such marvelous settings, one might never want to leave anyway.

a train on the tracks
Image by Amanja Hemal from Pixabay

More Information On Visiting Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has done an amazing job organizing practical information for visitors who might be reading this, but aren’t quite sure whether it all seems worth it, including all the resources on what you’d need prior to your trip, exactly what tourism sites will be available during the first 14 days (you can depart sooner, if you wish) and how hotels will make the experience enjoyable.

Ultimately, 14 days at a hotel may not be the experience many dream of for bucket list trips, but few are right now, and an opportunity is better than no opportunity.

With hope, the worst will soon be behind us, and Sri Lanka can look at opening things up so that visitors can enjoy more of this stunning country, sooner into their visit. Until then, it’s nice to have a new option for travel starved enthusiasts, and sitting poolside in Sri Lanka right now doesn’t sound all that bad. Work from anywhere, right?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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