Colombo: Over 2,000 Indian nationals are among the 16,900 foreign tourists stranded in Sri Lanka due to the lockdown imposed by the government after the coronavirus outbreak, official figures released said on Friday.
At 2,439, the Indians are the highest among the number of tourists stranded in the island nation followed by the Chinese at 2,167, data from the Sri Lanka Tourism and Development Authority said.
The data was released a day after Sri Lanka said that it will allow chartered flights from any country to land here and fly out their citizens stranded in the country on a holiday or for work purposes due to the coronavirus epidemic.
Sri Lanka shut its international airports for incoming flights since last week and the people were asked to skip foreign travel in view of the coronavirus threat.
A limited number of outbound flights do still operate. Sri Lanka has so far recorded 104 confirmed COVID-19 cases while another over 200 others are under observation.
Sri Lanka's first known COVID-19 was a female Chinese tourist. She was cured and departed early this month.
The first Sri Lankan national to be confirmed to carry the virus was a tour guide who worked with Italian tourists. He was cured and left hospital this week.
The number of COVID-19 cases across the globe has skyrocketed to 531,860 and a total of 24,057 people have died so far.
At 85,653, the US now has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, surpassing China and Italy. Nearly 1300 people have died in the US due to the disease.
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.
Updated Date: Mar 27, 2020 20:38:24 IST