Sri Lanka has extended its scheme of offering free visa-on-arrival till April 30, 2020, for 48 countries, and India is one of them. By Ritika Dixit
On August 1, 2019, Sri Lanka granted free visas to travellers from 48 countries, including India, for a period of six months. This was done in an attempt to recover the country’s tourism industry, which suffered a major setback following the Easter Sunday attacks on April 21, 2019, which targeted three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo and killed over 250 people. With the six months’ period coming to an end, the Sri Lankan tourism industry has urged the continuation of the regime, as it has played a crucial role in the thorough recovery of the industry.
Tourism contributes to five per cent of the island nation’s GDP. However, the growing tourism with over 10 per cent increase every year received a major set back following the suicide bombings by the local terror group National Thawheed Jammath (NTJ). According to data from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, 1.6 million tourists arrived from January to November, compared to the 2 million in the same period in 2018.
Despite the Immigration and Emigration Department of Sri Lanka lobbying the government to suspend the scheme of free visa-on-arrival noting a setback due to loss of revenue, the scheme has been extended keeping in mind the whooping amount of USD 4.4 billion brought in as the foreign exchange earnings.
Passport holders from Thailand, European Union nations, the United States, Australia, South Korea, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Switzerland, Cambodia, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, and Russia are among the 48 countries which can benefit from the free visa-on-arrival scheme that has been extended till April 30.