ECONOMYNEXT- The free visa scheme for tourists arriving in Sri Lanka which had begun last August will be extended to April 2020, the Cabinet Co-Spokesperson said.
“The free visa program has delivered results,” Ramesh Pathirana said in Colombo on Thursday.
“The Tourism and Aviation Minister yesterday proposed to extend this program for another three months, which the cabinet approved,” he said.
The 48 countries which received the free visa approvals over the past six months will continue to receive this benefit, he said.
Responding to questions from reporters, Pathirana said it was the cabinet’s belief that tourist arrivals had recovered by 10-12 percent due to the free visa scheme.
The tourism industry has been lobbying the government for continuation of the program, although the state incurs a loss of revenue from the program.
From August to January, tourist arrivals had fallen 15 percent to 1 million tourists, mainly due to the Easter Sunday terror bombings in 2019 and the coronavirus in early 2020.
Pathirana said with the coronavirus scare causing declines in global tourism flows, the move to extend the visa scheme is welcome.
Sri Lanka normally charges 35 US dollars for a 30-day tourist visa, which can be easily obtained online within minutes, or upon arrival. (Colombo/Feb13/2020)