Our attention has been drawn to certain social media posts being widely circulated in the public domain where reference is drawn to tourists brought in by certain individuals. The posts referred to are devoid of truth. We note the wide publicity given to such false posts. There is no such request nor approval given.
The ability to visit a ‘Tourist Site’ requires the approval of the respective Line Agency. In this case the Wildlife Department. In the event the Line Agency approves only, can Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority grant approval to visit a site. In this regard we have not received any such request to seek approval to visit Yala National Park.
However, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka and the Embassy of France in Sri Lanka have agreed on a diplomatic level to facilitate crew members of two French vessels visiting Sri Lanka. Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote to the Secretaries of Health and Tourism on 24.05.2021 informing about the delegation of French crew members arriving in two vessels from 7 th to 11 th June to visit Sri Lanka under a “Bio Safety Bubble”. They have requested to visit National Parks of Yala, Minneriya-Kawudulla, Udawalawa and the Eco Park in Habarana. Upon the request, the State Ministry of Wildlife and Forest Conservation approved 422 number of French crew members to visit these National Parks under strict bio-bubble conditions. Sri Lanka Navy will ensure adherence to Health Guidelines throughout the visit.
As this is a diplomatic delegation, the role of Tourism is limited to coordinating the visit with the assistance of Sri Lanka Navy.
Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority continues to work to ensure Tourism is supported in a responsible manner and seek the support of the general public to abstain from circulating false statements.