Citizens of 48 world countries can now get a tourist and business visas for Sri Lanka without having to pay any fees. The move has been undertaken by the Ministry of Tourism in Sri Lanka in a bid to attract more tourists to the island country, in the wake of the Easter bomb attack that killed 263 people and left hurt many more, last April.
John Amaratunga, Minister of Tourism in Sri Lanka, said on Wednesday that travelers that wish to enter the country for tourism and business purposes could get their free visas by applying online or by getting a visa on arrival.
The measure will be tested for a period of six months, after which, if it is successful in attracting tourists, it will be continued.
“If it is not beneficial, we will suspend this program,” Minister Amaratunga said.
Previously, tourists and businesspersons wishing to travel to Sri Lanka had to pay a fee of $35 for a one-month tourist visa. Only nationals from South Asia benefited from a reduced fee of only $20. Due to the new measure, Sri Lanka may lose around $24 million in revenue that it could have earned from visa fees.
The Ministry of Tourism has created many more facilities, in a bid to increase the number of tourist arrivals which declined by about 45% in July compared to the same month previous year, after the bomb attacks last Easter that among others, killed over 40 foreigners.
Reduced airline ground charges, aviation fuel prices, and departure fees, as well as attractive packages with discounts up to 60% announced by hotels, tend to change this trend and win tourists back.
The industry of tourism accounts for 4.9% of Sri Lanka’s GDP, with about half a million of the citizens of the country directly depending on tourism.
Last Updated on