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.
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 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 online for a visa before travelling to the island which is emerging from decades of ethnic bloodshed after security forces crushed LTTE in May 2009.