Sri Lanka approves free tourist visas for 7 countries

Sri Lanka’s cabinet approved issuing free tourist visas to visitors from seven countries, including China, India, Russia, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia, according to a statement issued by the media ministry, to boost tourism and help revive its crisis-hit economy. Sri Lanka tourist visas

Tourists from those countries will be issued free visas till 31 March 2024 under a pilot programme, the statement detailing cabinet decisions said.

The scheme is part of attempts by Sri Lanka to boost tourism recovery and hit a target of five million arrivals by 2026, the statement added.

The country of 22 million people, famed for its beaches, ancient temples, and aromatic tea, saw its tourism industry pummelled first by the Covid-19 pandemic and then by a severe financial crisis last year that saw mass-scale protests and shortages of essentials such as fuel.

But the tourism industry is seeing a turnaround in 2023, with Sri Lanka clocking a million arrivals by September, for the first time since 2019. The island is expecting to close the year at 1.5 million arrivals.

India is the largest source of tourists with 200,310 arrivals, followed by Russia with 132,300, the latest data from the Sri Lanka Development Authority showed.

Sri Lanka earned $1.3 billion from tourism in the first eight months of 2023, up from $833 million during the same period last year, according to the central bank.

To apply for a Sri Lanka tourist visa, you will need the following:

  • A valid passport with at least six months of validity remaining from the date of your intended return travel
  • A completed online visa application form
  • A recent passport-size photograph
  • Proof of return travel, such as a flight ticket or booking confirmation
  • Proof of accommodation, such as a hotel reservation or invitation letter from a host in Sri Lanka
  • Proof of sufficient funds to support your stay in Sri Lanka, such as a bank statement or credit card statement

You may also be required to provide additional documentation, such as a police clearance certificate or a letter of invitation from a business in Sri Lanka, depending on your nationality and the purpose of your visit.

You can apply for a Sri Lanka tourist visa online through the Department of Immigration and Emigration website, or you can get your visa here.

Once your visa has been approved, you will receive an electronic travel authorization (ETA), which you will need to present at the port of entry to Sri Lanka.

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