An Echelon Media Company
Friday July 12th, 2024

Sri Lanka may miss tourism target over IVS-GBS-VFS visa fees, complex forms, President told

ONLINE COSTS: A survey of competitors shows that Sri Lankas’ visa fees which were already high, have jumped up with the shift to private contractor.

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s travel trade has appealed to President Ranil Wickremesinghe over high priced visas and hidden fees charged by IVS-GBS-VFS Global, a private contractor, which has made getting tourist visa difficult and as well as more expensive.

Sri Lanka’s widely acclaimed ease-of-use ETA web page operated by the Department of Immigration was shifted to a private contractor for reasons that are not clear, leading to a website which is seeking a lot of information through a complex process.

“The previous system was straightforward and extremely easy to use for those with limited IT knowledge,” key travel associations wrote to president.

“The current system is complex with an OTP system, scrolling sections that are not easy to find, requirements of documents, complex format requirements for documents, unnecessary required fields (Second Address Line, Post Code)…”

The website was also asking for tourists twitter handles and facebook pages, taking more time. It is not clear why the IVS-GBS-VFS Global is asking for the information.

In the Maldives tourists are only required to fill in an arrival form.

The inconvenient visa platform was also charging a hidden previously undisclosed ‘convenience fee’ as well as processing free of 18.5 dollars per visa.

A survey by the travel associations showed that Sri Lanka was charging as much as 100.77 dollar from a tourist while competitors like Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam were either charging nothing or 25 to 40 dollars.

A family of four would have to spend 400 dollars before even entering Sri Lanka.

“We respectfully urge you to intervene and restore a competitive and user-friendly visa process through a government-operated website, similar to the previous ETA system to enable a tourist to obtain the necessary 30-day single entry visa with ease,” the letter said.

“This is crucial to sustaining the positive momentum in our tourist industry and supporting the broader economic recovery efforts.”

Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators, Travel Agents Association of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Association of Professional Conference Exhibition and Event Organizers, Association of Small and Medium Enterprises in Tourism, IATA Agents Association of Sri Lanka, Boar of Airline Representatives, Sri Lanka Association of Airlines Representatives are making the appeal.

It the website and the fees are charged from tourists Sri Lanka may not be able to reach the 2.3 million target for tourism.

The private consortium stands to make about 12.7 billion rupees in 2024 based on a tourist target of 2.3 million, not counting a ‘convenience fee’ which may range from 5 to 7 odd dollar, which may add another 4 billion if all the cash goes to the firms.

However the travel trade warns that Sri Lank may miss the tourism target due to the IVS-GBS-VFS Global visa fees, the island may only get 2.0 million visitors.

Private firms like VFS Global are employed by Western nations who want to make it difficult to get visas and limit people entering their countries especially from Asian and African nations due to fears of illegal immigration. (Colombo/May04/2024)

Comments (1)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Rao says:

    Sri Lanka Govt should take up visa issue seriously to expect huge traffic expected from India and continue free visa till One year.

View all comments (1)

Comments (1)

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Rao says:

    Sri Lanka Govt should take up visa issue seriously to expect huge traffic expected from India and continue free visa till One year.

Sri Lanka appoints new Attorney General

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed K A Parinda Ranasinghe PC as Attorney General.

He was appointed in terms of Article 61E (b) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka, the president’s media division said.

The new AG received the appointment from President Wickremesinghe at the Presidential Secretariat on Friday.

He fills the post after the retirement of former Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam. (Colombo/Jul12/2024)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka rupee closes stronger at 301.70/302.00 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed stronger at 301.70/302.00 to the US dollar on Friday, from 302.80/303.00 to the US dollar on Thursday, dealers said, while bond yields were up.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 10.90/11.00 percent, up from 10.85/95 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2027 closed at 11.75/80 percent, up from 11.80/88 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2028 closed at 11.90/12.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed at 12.10/30 percent, up from 12.15/25 percent. (Colombo/Jul12/2024)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka stocks close up, muted activity

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed up on Friday, data on its site showed.

The broader All Share Index closed up 0.35 percent, or 41.71 points, at 11,843; while the more liquid S&P SL20 Index closed up 0.56 percent, or 19.20 points, at 3,454.

Turnover was low at 653 million.

“The market picked up a bit from yesterday but it’s still below the psychological 12,000 mark,” Softlogic Stockbrokers said.

“Local retail participation drove the market predominantly.”

John Keells Holdings Plc brought in Rs109mn to the turnover, and the share closed flat at 194.50.

Melstacorp Plc contributed in Rs104mn to the turnover, and the share closed flat at 85.00.

Sentiment around the banking counters was mostly negative. Sampath Bank Plc closed down at 77.00, closed flat at 101.25, and Hatton National Bank Plc closed flat at 195.25.

The top contributors to the ASPI were Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc (up at 103.50), Bukit Darah Plc (up at 397.00), and Hayleys Plc (up at 101.00).

Foreign participation remained low as well. There was a higher net foreign outflow of 101 million.

“Foreign selling was seen on John Keells Holdings, and banking counters; Hatton National Bank Plc (down at 195.00), Pan Asia Banking Corporation Plc (down at 20.70), and Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc.

There was selective foreing interest on the diversified financials sector, particularly in companies that had vehicle leasing portfolios. “We think this might be due to the news of the vehicle import ban possibly ending.”

LOLC Holdings Plc closed up at 440.50, People’s Leasing and Finance Plc closed up at 12.20.

Softlogic Holdings Plc which announced the date of its rights issue, closed up at 8.50. (Colombo/Jul12/2024)

Continue Reading