Sri Lanka extends free visa on arrival scheme for 48 countries

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Sri Lanka has extended the free visa-on-arrival scheme till April 30 for the citizens of 48 countries, including India.

Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga made the announcement, adding, “We have decided to extend this facility due to requests from the stakeholders. A Cabinet paper would be submitted for this purpose.”

To recover from the post-Easter Sunday setback, the tourism industry in Sri Lanka has urged the government to continue the fee-free visa regime. They have pointed out that any loss of revenue to Government from granting a free visa is insignificant considering the net $4.4 billion income the industry brings in as foreign exchange earnings.

The Sri Lankan Government launched the programme to grant a one-month free visa to visitors from 48 countries on August 1, 2019 until January 2020 as an effort to boost the tourism industry that was badly hit by the Easter bomb attacks that killed 263 people.

India continued to be the top sourcing market for Sri Lankan tourism with Indian tourists constituting a maximum 19% of total tourist arrivals to the island nation in 2019. The latest data released by Sri Lankan Tourism revealed that 3,55,002 Indian tourists visited Sri Lanka last year against total arrival of around 1.91 million. Over 48 thousand Indians visited Sri Lanka during the last month of December alone including over thousand by sea route. India, United Kingdom, China, Germany and Australia were Sri Lanka’s top five international tourist generating markets last year. Sea beaches and religious places connected to the Ramayana circuit remain the top attractions for Indian tourists.