HOSPITALITY INSIDER – In light of recent events, the visa on arrival programme that was planned to roll out on 1st May 2019 will no longer be going ahead.
In a statement, John Amaratunga, Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs cited the current security situation and said “Investigations have revealed foreign links to the attacks and we don’t want this facility to be abused”.
The visa on arrival programme was due to provide citizens of 39 selected countries with a visa on arrival fee waiver for a trial period of six months. The initiative was designed to boost tourism numbers during what is usually the low-season for foreign tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka.
In 2018, May had the lowest number of tourist arrivals at only 130,000. May and June are consistently the months with the fewest visitor arrivals to the country.
The programme has been put on hold until further notice.
This will be a further blow to Sri Lanka’s competitiveness as a tourist destination. Many destinations Sri Lanka is competing with offer the free visa on arrival service to tourists.