According to the Sri Lankan officials, the situation in the Island country has normalised enough to open their borders for tourism. The government plans to revive their visa-on-arrival and free visa programme for citizens of 39 countries. According to media reports, India and China have been excluded from that list.
The Sri Lankan tourism industry accounts for close to 5% of the country’s GDP. The plan was motivated to incentivise tourist arrivals during the off-season of May-October.
Commenting on the reason behind the exclusion of India and China, the ministry suggested that the programme was to be set based on a trial period of six months. India and China are the top sources for the revenue in the industry. The programme would be to embrace the two countries in the post-trial period.
India accounts for 450,00 tourists and Sri Lanka expects the number to cross the million mark sometime this year. In the first three months of 2019, the nation saw almost 40,600 foreign nationals visiting the country. The countries included in the visa on arrival programme includes: United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and Canada
After the Easter Sunday bombings on April 25 that killed 258 people, Sri Lanka had suspended all plans to grant visa-on-arrival for 39 countries. The Minister of Tourism Development, John Amaratunga suggested that his ministry along with the Ministry of Immigration and Emigration is working jointly for Cabinet approval for the revival on visa-on-arrival and free visa programme.
The programme is slated to be revived from August 1. The minister has called for advanced security in the island nations and a stricter regiment of background checks through monitoring systems. A prudent system that would prevent criminals and other such troublemakers from entering the nation, said Amaratunga.