Sri Lanka approves 5 new airlines to promote tourism

Colombo: Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said the Sri Lankan government has approved five new airlines to operate in the country before the end of this year. These are aimed at boosting tourist arrivals after the easing of Covid restrictions.

Sweden’s Edelweiss Air will fly twice a week from November 1, and Russia’s Aeroflot twice a week from November 1, while Air France will fly thrice a week from November 3, Xinhua news agency reported.

In addition, from the first week of December, Russia’s Azur Air and Italy’s Neos Air will fly to Colombo twice a week, the minister said.

The operations of these airlines in the country will be subject to strict health guidelines.

Ranatunga said it aims to increase foreign income and contribute to the national economy through the revival of the tourism industry.

About 16,500 tourists arrived in Sri Lanka between October 1 and 24, raising hopes for the beleaguered industry, with international travel starting following the administration of the vaccine against COVID-19 globally.

Ranatunga said that if the trend continues, October could witness the highest monthly tourist footfall this year.

The minister said that with the easing of travel restrictions, the interest of global travelers to visit the country is increasing.

According to official figures, September saw the highest number of tourists at 13,547, raising the figure for the first nine months to over 54,768.

Most of these tourists were from India, UK, Pakistan, Russia, Germany, Maldives, Canada, France, USA and Indonesia.

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