President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday stressed that tourism must be revived fast with adequate safeguards post-COVID-19 pandemic, whilst the Government announced reopening of the Bandaranaike International Airport from 1 August.
Issues facing the tourism industry as well as measures necessary for a quick revival came up for discussion when the Task Force Committee entrusted with COVID-19 control met under the patronage of President Rajapaksa yesterday.
It was the Task Force which recommended to President to reopen airports for foreign tourists from 1 August as the country is gradually returning to normalcy.
The Committee members pointed out that it is a remarkable achievement that not a single infected person was reported from the community after 30 April to date.
President Rajapaksa 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, the 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.
President advised relevant officials to set up Tourist 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,” President Rajapaksa added.
Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Prasanna Ranatunga, Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera and members of the Presidential Task Force for Control of COVID-19 Outbreak attended the meeting.
Source : ft.lk