Sri Lanka’s Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said tourism promotion initiatives with Russia and Ukraine have been launched to uplift the country’s tourism industry.
The government aimed to revive the sector which was severely hampered by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, local media reported 0n Monday.
Ranatunga told local journalists that Russia and Ukraine were among the top 10 countries with the highest number of tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka in recent years.
According to the tourism ministry, 24,320 tourists arrived in the country recently and of those, 250 were tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival.
Of these infections, about 150 returned to their home countries after recovery, and 100 were currently receiving treatment in the country, the ministry added.
Sri Lankan authorities said that direct flights between Sri Lanka and Russia would commence from Nov. 4, following an agreement between Russia’s Aeroflot airline and Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation authority in Moscow, Russia.
The tourism ministry said that steps would be taken to hold such discussions with leading airlines around the world in the future with the aim of promoting Sri Lanka as an attractive tourist destination.
Sri Lanka’s tourism sector has been one of the worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the government was now looking at ways to revive this sector which was one of the leading foreign exchange earners in the country.
An estimated four million people were directly and indirectly employed in the tourism sector in Sri Lanka.