Colombo [Sri Lanka], October 28 (ANI/Xinhua): The Sri Lankan government has approved five new airlines to operate into the country before the end of this year to boost tourist arrivals following the easing of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga quoted in local media reports said here Thursday.
Accordingly, Sweden's Edelweiss Air will operate a weekly flight and Russia's Aeroflot twice a week from Nov. 1, while Air France will fly three times a week from Nov. 3.
In addition, from the first week of December, Russia's AZUR Air and Italy's Neos Air will fly twice a week to Colombo, the Minister said.
The operations of these airlines into the country will be subject to strict health guidelines.
"The aim is to enhance foreign earnings through the revival of the tourism industry and contribute to the national economy," Ranatunga said.
With international travel having begun following the administration of the vaccine against COVID-19 globally, nearly 16,500 tourists had arrived in Sri Lanka between Oct. 1 and Oct. 24, boosting hopes for the crisis-ridden industry.
"If the trend continues, October is likely to record the highest monthly arrivals for this year," Ranatunga said
"With the easing of travel restrictions, there is a growing interest from global travelers to visit the country," the Minister added.
According to official figures, September saw the highest arrival of 13,547 tourists, thereby boosting the first nine months' figure to over 54,768.
The majority of these tourists were from India, Britain, Pakistan, Russia, Germany, Maldives, Canada, France, the United States and Indonesia. (ANI/Xinhua)