Sri Lanka to Extend Visa-Free Regime Until April

Citizens of 48 countries will still be able to enter Sri Lanka, without the need to obtain a visa, due to a recent decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Sri Lanka who extended the visa-on-arrival scheme for three months.

Sri Lanka’s visa-on-arrival was set to expire on January 31, but with the proposal for the extension of the Minister of Industrial Export and Investment Promotion Prasanna Ranatunga, it will last until April 30, VisaGuide.World reports.

According to the co-cabinet Spokesman Minister Ramesh Pathirana, this new visa scheme has brought an increase of 10 to 12 percent in tourist arrivals.

Even though the Easter terror attacks and the Coronavirus outbreak affected tourism, causing a drop in January 2020, compared with January 2019, the extension of visas is considering as the right thing to be done, in order to increase tourism.  

With the introduction of the free visa scheme, we saw an increase of 10 to 12 percent in tourist arrivals after the Easter attacks but with the coronavirus onset, the sector is getting adversely affected once more and hence it is important to extend the facility for three more months,” Pathirana highlighted.

Sri Lanka’s Easter bombings that claimed the lives of 250 persons pushed the country to suspend the plans of visa-on-arrival for 39 countries.

After the coordinated terrorist attack of April 21, 2019, in three churches and three hotels of Sri Lanka, USD 20 visa fee for South Asian travelers and USD 35 fee applicable to visitors from the world, were renounced.

Another reason that Sri Lanka hesitated to continue the visa-on-arrival for Chinese citizens, which made the second-biggest source of inbound tourists in Sri Lanka, after India, is the Chinese coronavirus outbreak.

Both may be the reasons, that according to Sri Lanka’s Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) there were 228,434 tourist arrivals in January, a 6 percent drop compared to the 244,239 tourists that arrived in January 2019.

The statistics of the Tourism Development Authority of Sri Lanka were calculated by using the information on tourist arrivals and hotel occupancy.

The countries that can benefit from the visa-on-arrival scheme are the United States, India, China, Australia, Japan, Russia, Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland, and 38 other countries.

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