SL expects up to 2 million visitors in 2019 as visa fees waived off for 48 countries

Sri Lanka is projected to attract 1.9 to 2 million tourists in 2019, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Chairman Kishu Gomes said.

While this is a drop from last year’s 2.3 million arrivals, daily arrivals have been on the rise since the Easter Sunday bombings, due in large part to lowered prices and tightened security, Gomes said, adding that some 117,000 tourists are expected to arrive in July alone.

“In May, the average daily arrival figure was 1,100 which went up to 2,100 in June. The current average is 4,000; so the rate of recovery (after Easter Sunday) would be about 70 per cent. All we have to do is keep going at that rate,” he said.

The SLTDA Chairman was speaking at an event marking the launch of the Visa Fee Exemption Programme at Temple Trees today (31), which will see visa fees for citizens of 48 countries exempted from 1 August for a period of six months for one-month short term visas. The countries covered include Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, France and the United Kindom.

The income lost by the visa fee exemption drive can be recovered from increased tourist arrivals following the visa relaxation, Minister of Tourism John Amaratunga said.

Since the programme is valid for six months, he said, the Government can determine as to whether it is beneficial before extending the time period.

“Last year income derived from tourism was USD 4.5 billion. This year maybe it has been reduced, but with this, it will increase,” Amaratunga said.

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