SRI LANKAN travel agents have expressed reservations about the country’s planned switch to an online visa scheme, a change from present practice where visitors, particularly those from the West, get a visa-on-arrival (VOA).
While agents are worried the new system will hurt tourism compared to the convenience of a hassle-free VOA, they have agreed to the change provided the online application process is simplified.
Currently, visitors from some 80 countries including Britain, France, Germany, India, the US, Japan, Australia, Sweden, Russia, Germany, China, Pakistan, India and other EU nations, get a 30-day visa at no charge upon arrival.
Once the new system kicks in, these nationals would have to apply for an online visa and pay fees equivalent to what Sri Lankans are charged when travelling to the West.
No visa fee will be charged from Singapore or Maldivian travellers in a reciprocal measure, as these are the only two countries where Sri Lankan nationals are accorded a free VOA.
Sri Lanka Immigration and Emigration chief, Chulananda Perera, said visitors to the country would soon be able to apply for their visas through the website www.immigration.gov.lk.
Perera said the cabinet had only approved the initiative last week and implementation date has yet to be set.