Sri Lanka Set To Launch Indian Travel Bubble

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Sri Lanka is hoping to launch a travel bubble with India to revive the country’s tourism industry. As a result of the bubble, travellers could visit both countries without quarantines, a first for either nation. However, any such bubble has been delayed until India has contained its third wave of case.

As tourism numbers have dropped rapidly since last March and with only a limited domestic market, the island nation is seeking to increase international trade.

India is the country’s largest tourist source and is the ideal destination for a bio-bubble because of its proximity. Indians made up 18% of all tourist arrivals in January 2020, the last month of the pandemic disrupting global travel, which was key to the region’s economy.

There is no doubt that Sri Lanka wants to create a bio-bubble with India, and the country is already part of India’s “travel bubble agreements.” The country joined the list last week, allowing flights to resume after a long halt.

If it is successful, it would be the first bio-bubble in South Asia and restart international travel.

Although there have been ongoing discussions about the bio bubble in recent weeks, all plans will have to wait. India is currently in the midst of the second wave of COVID-19 that is far more potent than the first. As daily cases reach more than 250,000 and deaths rise rapidly, more and more countries have been banning travel from India in recent weeks.

Sri Lanka has clarified that it will be waiting for the second wave to die down before opening a bio bubble between the countries. Since October, the country has also battled rising cases, raising the total cases to more than 97,000 currently.

For SriLankan Airlines, India is effectively the airline’s de-facto domestic market. Colombo serves as one of the most important hubs for connecting flights and connecting to China, Australia, and beyond. Before the disease outbreak, the airline flew to 14 destinations in India, making it the only active market for the foreseeable future.

Although the bio bubble date has been delayed, both governments insist it is only a postponement. In the coming months, clarity will emerge when such a bubble would be feasible and on what conditions there will be in place. Testing will remain mandatory since both countries have active cases.

Globally, only a few bio bubble agreements have gone smoothly. New Zealand and Australia officially launched their long-awaited project this week, following months of planning. However, both countries have almost no cases of COVID-19, and there are no additional requirements for travellers.

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