Aimed at boosting the tourism sector, Indian tourists – the largest inbound group – to Sri Lanka, would receive free tourist visas with immediate effect, the Department of Immigration and Emigration has announced here.
The facility follows a Cabinet decision from October to issue free tourist visas to travellers from India, China, Russia, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia and Thailand amidst efforts to rebuild the debt-trapped island nation’s tourism sector that had slumped since the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings.
The pilot project to offer free visas for the first 30 days would be in force till March 31, 2024, the announcement said.
The travellers would be given dual entry status on arrival and the visa validity would be limited to 30 days’ stay in the island nation.
India is traditionally Sri Lanka’s top inbound tourism market.
In October 2023, arrival figures for India topped with over 28,000 arrivals or 26 per cent with Russian tourists trailing at over 10,000 arrivals as the second largest group.
The British tourists were placed third with over 8,000 arrivals.
Tourist arrivals to the island nation had slumped since the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings that left 270 persons, including 11 Indians, dead and over 500 injured.
Sri Lanka has been grappling with unprecedented economic turmoil, which has prompted an acute shortage of essential items like food, medicine, cooking gas and other fuel, toilet paper, and even matches.
In March, the International Monetary Fund agreed on a USD 3 billion bailout to Sri Lanka to revive its ailing economy.