Approval sought for PCR centre outside airport | Sunday Observer

Approval sought for PCR centre outside airport

6 September, 2020

To gear up for the re-opening of the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) for tourists, Tourism Minister Prassanna Ranatunga said he is seeking approval from authorities to conduct PCR tests on tourists at a centre outside the airport.

“We can only conduct PCRs for passengers of four flights per day if we conduct the tests within the airport. However, if we shift it to a location outside and close to the airport we could double that number,” Minister Ranatunga told Sunday Observer Business.

He said the ministry presented a Cabinet paper to allow tourists through the green channel (or low risk) destinations to enter the country through the BIA and those from red channel (high risk) destinations to enter the country through the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport.

The ministry has allocated Rs. 167.64 million to aid the tourism industry.

The cash will be allocated to short term programs that are expected to end by December.

“We have allocated Rs. 18.96 million to develop 12 tourist spots in Kurunegala, Matale, Mannar, Kandy, Badulla, Kegalle and Ampara and another Rs. 2.88 million to develop tourist villages,” the Minister said.

New websites will also be set up for the tourist villages - that include Mederipitiya South, Heeloya and Heelogama.

Under the program the Tourism Ministry will develop forts in Mannar, Kalpitiya and Batticaloa, and also allocate Rs. 14.50 million to refurbish railway stations in Ella, Hatton, Galle, Unawatuna, Bentota, Negombo, Kandy and Kalutara. “The ministry is continuing the program to grant Rs. 20,000 to guides and Rs. 15,000 to drivers who were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic,” the Minister said, adding that the ministry is ready to welcome tourists within 24 hours of the reopening of international airports.