COLOMBO: Sri Lanka will allow chartered flights from any country to land here and fly out their citizens stranded in the island nation on a holiday or for work purposes due to the coronavirus epidemic, a media report said on Thursday.
The Sri Lanka Tourism and Development Authority said it was closely working with the Ministry of Foreign Relations, and the respective embassies and high commissions to arrange necessary facilities for the foreign nationals on request, the Colombo Gazette reported.
According to the Department of Immigration and Emigration there are approximately 18,100 international tourists in the country as of March 25.
"The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority has taken measures to repatriate tourists who are stranded in Sri Lanka due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
The Government will allow charter flights to fly out remaining tourists on holiday or on work in Sri Lanka on request," the statement from the tourism authority said.
Officials said that despite arrivals being suspended into the country, all departures will be supported.
The deadly coronavirus that first emerged in China's Wuhan city has drastically spread around the world, infecting 471,518 people and causing 21,293 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracker.
Sri Lanka has so far reported 102 coronavirus cases with no deaths.
The Sri Lankan military said that 3,029 persons are currently placed in 46 quarantine centres across the country, the report said.
The coronavirus outbreak has highly impacted tourism of Sri Lanka, a major source of revenue for the country.
This blow to the island nation's tourism comes after the Easter Sunday attacks last year that killed 258 people, including Indians.
In 2018 the island country attracted a record 2.2 million visitors, earning Sri Lanka about USD 4.4 bn.
It was named as the world's top tourist destination in 2019 by the travel guide, Lonely Planet.