SL to withdraw free visa on-arrival for Indians

Last Updated: Friday, May 27, 2011 - 18:30

Colombo: Sri Lanka plans to withdraw the
on-arrival free visa facility for Indians and other foreign
tourists under a new visa regime, which will come into effect
within three months.

"The cabinet has this week formally approved the new
visa regime. The scheme will come into effect within about
three months," a government official said to a news agency.

On a reciprocal basis, Sri Lanka will continue to
grant visas on arrival for Singaporean and Maldivian nationals
because their countries extend the same facility for Sri
Lankan nationals.

India is the number one tourism generating market for
Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan cabinet decision last Wednesday gave a
formal approval for withdrawing the visa-on-arrival scheme and
replacing it with an on-line application process.

The government had last year proposed doing away with
granting visas to all nationals arriving in the island, but
the scheme was put on hold following representations by the
tourism industry which feared a drop in visitor arrivals.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan immigration officials here on Friday
denied the report that Colombo had taken a move to stop `on
arrival` visas for Indians travelling to the island.

With the implementation of the new system, they will
have to apply on line for a visa before travelling to the
island which is emerging from decades of ethnic bloodshed
after security forces crushed LTTE in May 2009.

Sri Lanka has granted Western tourists as well as
those from developed nations a 30-day visa on arrival since
the 1970s as part of a move to promote tourism.

The scheme was extended to SAARC in the mid 1990s to
encourage tourists from the region.

PTI




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