From 1,300 Chinese nationals arriving in the country to a mere 100, a sharp drop in daily arrivals is presently recorded, according to Immigration Controller General Pasan Ratnayake.
He said daily about 800-1300 Chinese nationals arrived in the country as tourists, businessmen, students and workers. But since January 28, the rate has fallen to about 90 to 100.
He said instructions would be sent today to institutions and workplaces which employ Chinese nationals to keep them indoors and limit their exposure to public.
Mahesh Priyadarshana, Head of Sri Lanka Institute of National Tourist Guide Lecturers, said tour guides were being stigmatised as they worked with Chinese tourists.
“We are pressured by both Western tourists and locals when we take Chinese or East Asian tourists on tours. They are not invited to places or shops. Even our tour guides take a week’s break after a tour before going to their respective homes,” he said, calling on the authorities to strengthen the screening process.
According to Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, last year 167,863 Chinese tourists visited Sri Lanka and 265,965 in 2018. Sri Lanka receives Chinese tourists both by air and sea.
M. Shanthi Kumar, President of City Hotels Association, said there was a slight drop in overall tourist occupancy within cities.
“The Chinese tourists arrivals have come down, following the Government’s travel restriction. We are doing our best to keep tourists from other countries. We are taking adequate measures such as wearing masks, subjecting visitors to thermal screening and training the staff on health and hygiene,” he said.
Sumedha Wickremanayake of the Airport Tourist Drivers Association said they were experiencing about 25 percent drop in tourist arrivals.
“If more coronavirus cases are reported, then it will have a large impact on the tourism industry. Our association has 140 tourist transport vehicles and our drivers are advised to wear masks, carry sanitisers and tissues, and to be hygiene conscious. If any tourist shows flu symptoms, our drivers will immediately take them to the nearest hospital,” he said.