Sri Lanka cancels on-arrival visa for tourists from 39 countries

Sri Lanka’s Tourism Ministry said that it has kept its new visa-on-arrival programme on hold until further notice due to the security situation in the island nation following the Easter Sunday bombings. The programme was expected to be implemented from May 1 for tourists from over 30 countries,

The visas on arrival pilot programme was part of a larger initiative to increase tourist arrivals to the country during the six-month off-season period from May to October.

“Investigations have revealed foreign links to the attacks and we do not want this facility to be abused,” Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga said.

Tourism was one of the worst hit industries following the deadly blasts on Sunday that killed 359 people and injured over 500 others.

“Although arrangements were in place to issue visas on arrival for citizens of 39 countries, we have now decided to hold it for the time being in consideration of the current security situation,” news agency AFP quoted Amaratunga as saying.

The countries included in the visa on arrival programme are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States of America, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand and Switzerland.

Sri Lanka received 7,40,600 foreign tourists in the first three months of 2019. Around 450,000 Indians visited the island nation last year and the country was expecting the total Indian tourist arrivals to cross one million mark in 2019.