The Sri Lankan cabinet has decided to launch the visa on arrival program from August 1, following a previous postponement.
Visitors from 48 countries will now be eligible for a free visa on arrival for Sri Lanka. The visa will be valid for 30-days and the scheme will run for six months.
Visa on arrival will be extended to business travellers of these 48 countries as well.
Sri Lanka Emigrations encouraged tourists to apply online for the electronic travel authorisation, to avoid delays at the airport. An arrival visa counter will also be added at the airport to accelerate the arrival process. Visitors who want to extend their stay in Sri Lanka will have to apply for the visa extension separately.
Refer below for the countries eligible for this program.
Minister Amaratunga added that the country is expecting a total of 1.9 – 2 million arrivals in 2019.
Many in the industry feel that the recovery is happening quicker than expected, however,, it is still very early days.
The pilot programme, which was initially agreed upon in April and scheduled to be launched from May 1, was put on hold amid security concerns after the April attacks.
The launch of the visa on arrival program was announced at a press conference chaired by Tourism Minister, John Amaratunga alongside members of Sri Lanka Tourism after the cabinet had approved the decision last week. It is hoped this will help boost foreign arrival numbers which have been significantly down in May and June.
SLTDA data shows that arrivals increased from 1,200 per day in May to 2,100 per day in June and are reported to be around 4,000 per day by mid-July, a positive sign for Sri Lanka Tourism. Chairman of SLTPB, Kishu Gomes forecasts arrival numbers in July to stand at 117,000. “We have seen a 70 per cent month on month recovery since May.”
Asian destinations who have had similar terrorism incidents have taken around 11 to 20 months to recover. In the May-July issue of Hospitality Insider, we featured an in-depth look at case studies of such locations, click here to see the data.
While many countries have softened their travel ban, Russia and Saudi Arabia are yet to tone down their travel advisory to Sri Lanka.
The list of countries includes many of Sri Lanka’s top source markets, such as Australia, UK, France, Germany, China, India and the USA.
The full list of countries being given free visa on arrival is as follows:
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- Slovak Republic
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
- United States of America