The Presidential Task Force established to combat COVID-19 has proposed to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to reopen airports for foreign tourists from August 1st as the country is gradually returning to normalcy, the President’s Media Division said today.
It said the Committee members pointed out that it is a remarkable achievement that not a single infected person was reported from the community up to date since April 30.
The COVID Prevention Task Force Committee was convened under the patronage of President Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat today to discuss ways and means to revive the tourism industry which was badly affected by the pandemic.
The President has highlighted the necessity of following health guidelines issued by international and local health experts in the event of opening the country for tourists.
“There is a possibility to be at the forefront of tourism revival provided a well-planned strategy is in place. Future steps should be taken under the guidance of tourism and health professionals on a priority basis,” President said.
Under the first phase, it was decided to open hotels and restaurants registered under the Tourism Development Authority for in-house dining.
Based on its progress, steps will be taken to gradually open unregistered eateries under the assistance and supervision of the Army and Public Health Officers.
The President advised relevant officials to set up Tourists Police units comprising those who are fluent in foreign languages giving priority to popular tourist destinations.
“In order to attract tourists it is necessary to have a proper understanding of their preferences. Some prefer the beach while some enjoy seeing archaeological sites and wildlife. Some tourists are interested in scenic beauty. Tourist promotion activities should be planned accordingly,” the President added.
Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Prasanna Ranatunga, Secretary to the President Dr. P.B. Jayasundera and members of the Presidential Task Force established to combat COVID-19 have attended the meeting.