Colombo, May 8 (PTI) Sri Lanka will target high-spending tourists to revive the tourism sector which has been shattered by the coronavirus pandemic, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said.
Widespread travel restrictions and the closure of airports and national borders to curb the spread of the virus had plunged international tourism into its worst crisis.
During a meeting with the members of the newly-appointed Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival and Poverty Eradication, Gotabaya Rajapaksa said tourism sector which make a huge contribution to the national economy should be revitalized to suit the changing situations.
He proposed that Sri Lanka take steps to issue visas with a recognised health certificate when tourists begin to return to the island country, the Colombo Gazette reported.
He also proposed that Sri Lanka Tourism target countries where the coronavirus has been contained.
The president emphasised the need to focus promoting medical tourism by highlighting the 'successful efforts taken by Sri Lanka to contain the spread of the coronavirus.' He also urged the authorities to target long-term tourists who often travel to other countries during the winter season.
The president also noted that promoting domestic tourism can ensure the hotel industry is protected.
Tourism accounts for about five per cent of the economy, with Britain, India and China the main markets.
The number of international tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka declined in March 2020 by 70.8 per cent in comparison to a year ago as the tourism industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak.
The president expressed optimism that the economy adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic could be re-built on a solid basis as the government is preparing to resume day-to-day life and work from next week.
The number of coronavirus patients in Sri Lanka on Friday reached 824, the Ministry of Health said.
The Ministry of Health added that 9 deaths due to COVID -19 have been reported so far in Sri Lanka. PTI PMS