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Sri Lanka eyes 20-pct arrivals gain with free visa from May to October for off-season countries

Apr 04, 2019 16:09 PM GMT+0530 | 3 Comment(s)

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka is planning to boost off-peak season arrivals by 20 percent in 2019 with the introduction of a free on-arrival visa program in May, a minister said.

“We will run this as a pilot project initially in order to increase arrivals during the off season," Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga said in a statement.
 
"We estimate that this initiative will result in a 20 percent increase in arrivals," he said.
 
"Depending on its success in the initial period, we will decide whether to continue with it."
 
Amaratunga added that the travel and tourism industry stakeholders had welcomed the move as a step in the right direction. 
 
Tourists from 39 countries will be elligible for the program.
 
The Department of Immigration and Emigration is in the process of making necessary arrangements to implement the visa on arrival program from May 1.
 
The program was initially expected to start on April 1, but administrative processes had delayed implementation.
 
On March 19, cabinet approval was granted for the project for six months ending October 31.
 
Sri Lanka's off-peak season runs from April to June and September to October (even November in some years).
 
In 2018, April attracted 93 percent of the average monthly arrivals, which fell to 67 percent in May and 75 percent in June.
 
September brought in 77 percent of average monthly arrivals, October 79 percent and 95 percent in November.
 
Sri Lanka had run an off-peak promotions campaign named 'Island Escapes' from September to November 2018 as a pilot project, giving price cuts on flights, hotels and tours in a partnership between the state and private firms.
 
This campaign too was a pilot project, expected to be repeated in 2019 if successful.
 
An official said around 8,000 tourists had taken advantage of the promotion in 2018.
 
Amaratunga said this campaign will be continued during the free visa period.
 
The Sri Lankan government is driving tourism to become Sri Lanka's leading foreign exchange earner (currently third behind worker remittances and apparel exports), in order to bridge a current account gap in the balance of payments.
 
Sri Lanka earned 4.4 billion US dollars in foreign exchange from tourism in 2018 from 2.3 million arrivals, up from 3.9 billion US dollars through 2.1 million visitors in 2017.
 
The government is now aiming for 5 billion US dollars in earnings for 2019 from 3 million arrivals.
 
The countries included in the visa on arrival programme are as follows:
 
1. Austria
 
2. Belgium
 
3. Bulgaria
 
4. Cambodia
 
5. Croatia
 
6. Cyprus
 
7. Czech Republic
 
8. Denmark
 
9. Estonia
 
10. Finland
 
11. France
 
12. Germany
 
13. Greece
 
14. Hungary
 
15. Ireland
 
16. Italy
 
17. Latvia
 
18. Lithuania
 
19. Luxembourg
 
20. Malta
 
21. Netherlands
 
22. Poland
 
23. Portugal
 
24. Romania
 
25. Slovak Republic
 
26. Slovenia
 
27. Spain
 
28. Sweden
 
29. United Kingdom
 
30. United States of America
 
31. Japan
 
32. Australia
 
33. South Korea
 
34. Canada
 
35. Singapore
 
36. New Zealand
 
37. Malaysia
 
38. Thailand
 
39. Switzerland
 
(Colombo/Apr04/2019-SB)
 


 

3 Comments

  1. sacre blieu April 05, 09:03 AM

    We should not be that desperate to look only for numbers when it comes to promote tourism. Look at the hot spots in other destinations and what has happened to its natural endemic life and unique culture. Drugs and other social disease have ruined those once peaceful and ecological, natural biodiversity life to ultimate destruction. Some countries have even restricted visits due to reasons trending to destroy their local environment. Look at our own, once wonderful places like Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna.

  2. Gopi April 05, 12:52 PM

    Hon, Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga, kindly take note that you have granted on arrival visa to 39 countries. A very warm thanks to Singapore government, who always give us respect to enter that country without visa. No other country in the list would give us on arrival visa. We Srilankans have to toil and moil for visa to enter those countries like slaves. It is a shame. When are we going to enter those countries with dignity like during the golden time of Ceylon. Regards. GopiA Srilankan

  3. jay April 04, 05:24 AM

    I am in the German tourist business but there is no offical communication from the Government.Embassy in Berlin has no information. Trade is kept in the dark.

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