The government of Sri Lanka has announced that it has reopened its borders to foreign tourists for the first time in 10 months following an entry ban to contain the spread of COVID-19. On January 19th, 2021, the chairperson of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Kimarli Fernando, announced that Sri Lankan borders would reopen
27 January 2020| Post by
Sri Lanka is to extend its free visa on arrival program to visitors from 48 countries. This recent development in global visa information is to be enacted imminently and is to remain in place until April 30th for applicable travelers.
The extension of the visa on arrival system was announced by Sri Lankan Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga. Speaking to the press, he explained: “We have decided to extend this facility due to requests from the stakeholders. A Cabinet paper would be submitted for this purpose.”
With regards to the timeframe until the new policy is enacted, Mr. Ranatunga commented, “We have just begun to draft the proposal, and within the next two weeks, I hope to submit it to the Cabinet for approval.”
Free Visa On Arrival Extended Until April 30th
Under the revamped system, travelers visiting from 48 countries are able to obtain a free visa on arrival when visiting Sri Lanka. Whilst this system is set to continue until April 30th officially, it is possible it could be extended if successful.
Once fully enacted, citizens from these eligible countries will be able to simply arrive in Sri Lanka without acquiring a visa in advance or paying administrative fees. They will then be granted a visa by the Sri Lankan authorities during immigration into the country.
India is one of the countries set to benefit the most from the change in policy, which in turn is likely to mutually benefit the Sri Lankan economy. As the closest nation to Sri Lanka, Indian tourists are the most numerous in the country. Since the suspension of the visa on arrival system for Indian tourists, visitor numbers in Sri Lanka dipped approximately 5-10%.
Sri Lanka Plays Catch-Up In The Tourism Market
The visa on arrival system into Sri Lanka had previously been limited in the wake of the Easter Sunday bombings in 2019 which killed 258 people. As new security measures were put into place, restrictions were enacted at the country’s national borders.
39 countries were unable to take advantage of free visas on arrival during this time. This change in policy and negative perceptions about security in the country led to a steady drop in tourist visits to the island nation. At present, the tourist economy accounts for 5% of Sri Lanka’s national GDP.
However, now that the country has had a chance to recover and overcome some of these concerns it is seeking to make up lost ground. The worldwide visa information regarding free visas on arrival is indicative that the country is slowly but surely recovering its prowess as a tourist destination.
There are only 3 nationalities that can enter Sri Lanka without any kind of visa. Visitors from all other countries can only pass through national immigration with a form of valid travel authorization.
At present, Sri Lanka offers foreign tourists both visas on arrival and Electronic Travel Authorizations (eTA), the latter of which can be obtained online prior to arrival. However, Passport holders of all nationalities are recommended to check the visa requirements that apply to their citizenship before visiting the country.
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Sri Lanka plans to reopen its shores to foreign visitors in August after several months of an international travel ban due to the coronavirus pandemic. Airports in Sri Lanka have been closed and visas and electronic travel authorizations (ETAs) have been suspended since April as the country, like many others, has closed itself off from