Sri Lanka is reopening to tourists after more than nine months of travel bans due to COVID-19

  • After nine months of travel bans imposed under the COVID-19 pandemic, Sri Lanka is reopening to tourists. 
  • Officials are implementing a pilot program working to attract visitors, starting with a special tourist flight from Ukraine on Monday. 
  • The World Travel and Tourism Council has warned that nearly 200 million travel industry jobs could vanish worldwide as a direct result of the pandemic. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Sri Lanka is reopening to tourists after nine months of travel bans imposed under COVID-19. 

Local authorities closed the island nation's two international airports in March as the pandemic wreaked havoc around the world. 

But the government is now implementing a pilot program working to attract visitors, starting with a special flight from Ukraine on Monday, the Hindustan Times reports. 

Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, tourism accounted for around 5% of Sri Lanka's economy, employing close to 2 million people at one point. 

Officials initially hoped to reopen in August, but were forced to push the date back after the novel coronavirus continued to spread around the globe. 

The World Travel and Tourism Council previously warned that nearly 200 million travel industry jobs could vanish worldwide as a direct result of the pandemic. 

Travel demand has dropped globally, with every region seeing a collapse in tourism business. Tour operator TUI reported travel was down 81% in Europe from June through the beginning of August, compared to the same period in 2019, according to CNN.

Economic models show that in addition to the loss of 197 million jobs, up to $5.5 trillion could be erased from global GDP. 

While some people are less eager to travel because of fears over the virus, others who would be willing to venture — using precautions such as masks — are delaying trips because of the methods being used to control the pandemic, WTTC said, such as quarantines and blanket travel restrictions.

Business Insider has put together a running list of countries American tourists can and can't visit at present. 

The State Department has told Americans to avoid all international travel and to contact countries' embassies to see what entry restrictions and requirements they have.

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