- Flight to India’s Kushinagar on April 26 to kick off air bubble has been suspended
- However, tourism authorities maintain that air bubble programme won’t be suspended as it is needed to revive tourism
- India has been reporting a record number of COVID-19 cases and fatalities
By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
With the suspension of the inaugural flight to Kushinagar Airport, India, it is likely that the travel bubble pursued between Sri Lanka and India to boost tourism be put on hold.
However, the Tourism Ministry yesterday said that the Sri Lanka-India air travel bubble would not be suspended, as its implementation is necessary to boost tourism between the two countries.
While the Sri Lanka-India air bubble was to kick off on April 26, with SriLankan Airlines flying to Kushinagar Airport to bring in the first batch of passengers under the bubble, a decision was taken yesterday to put the effort on hold, Mirror Business learns.
The flight was also scheduled to mark the upgrade of Kushinagar Airport, Uttar Pradesh, as an international airport.
The move to push the initiation of the bubble to a later date was decided due to the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases and fatalities in India, Mirror Business learns.
On Thursday, India recorded the world’s highest daily tally of 314,835 COVID-19 infections, as a second wave of the pandemic raised new fears about the ability of the crumbling health services to cope, according to Reuters.
Several other countries, including the UK, US, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong, the UAE and New Zealand, have placed some or complete restriction on the arrival of passengers from India.
Although India and Sri Lanka both announced the delay in launching the bilateral bubble earlier this week, yesterday Sri Lanka’s Tourism Ministry in an update in its website said that the proposed bubble has not been suspended.
“It was decided to launch an air travel bubble between Sri Lanka and India to boost tourism between the two countries,” Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said in an update shared on the ministry’s website yesterday.
He added that flights between the two countries under the air travel bubble are expected to resume and the activities of the air travel bubble will continue.
Despite the increase in cases in India as well as Sri Lanka, the senior authorities of the Tourism Ministry and Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) continue to express keenness in bringing in passengers into the country to help revive the hard-hit tourism sector.