INDIA has added Sri Lanka to the list of countries accorded visa on arrival (VoA) through the electronic visa authorisation, effective April 14, announced India’s prime minister Narendra Modi during a recent visit to the country.
Modi also revealed that Air India will commence flights between New Delhi and Colombo shortly.
Welcoming the move, Sonal Swamy, director of Mumbai-based Syrisa Travels, said: “Sri Lanka is a huge potential source market for India, and the VoA will boost Buddhist tourism leisure travel greatly and provide an impetus with anticipated growth of 25-30 per cent immediately.”
Industry members in Sri Lanka also laud the move.
Sasi Ganeshan, CEO, VMS Travels, said the VoA will tremendously ease the process of travelling to India. “Getting a visa can be a cumbersome process as it takes a minimum of three days and applicants also have to submit bank details,” he explained.
S Paramanathan, managing director, Atlas Lanka Travels, said: “This is a huge boost. The Indian agency that issues visas on behalf of the Indian embassy here is processing 600 visas a day – that’s the kind of demand for Sri Lankans visiting India.”
Nilmin Nanayakkara, managing director, Nkar Travels, believes the VoA could spur “weekend hoppers”, such as those seeking new destinations apart from Singapore, which also offers VoA.
According to latest available figures, some 300,000 Sri Lankans visited India in 2013 for business, leisure and pilgrimage, with the main destinations being Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi and Bengaluru.
India also granted Seychelles VoA from March 13, for a period of three months.
Additional reporting from Kolkata and Feizal Samath.