From May 1 to October 31, nationals from 39 countries visiting Sri Lanka will be eligible for visas on arrival (VoA).
The countries included in the 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, UK, US, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand and Switzerland.
The introduction of VoA is aimed at attracting more tourists to the nation, particularly in the off-season. Sri Lanka’s largest tourism source, India, is not included in the list of countries that qualify for VoA.
“We will run this as a pilot project initially to increase arrivals during the off-season. We estimate that this will result in a 20 per cent increase in arrivals. Depending on its success, we will decide whether to continue with it,” said Sri Lanka’s tourism minister John Amaratunga in a media announcement yesterday.
In addition to the visa relaxation, Sri Lanka Tourism in association with airlines, hotels and other industry stakeholders will also launch a discounted, off-season promotion package for tourists.
Industry stakeholders welcomed the move, which they believe would help generate more arrivals and tourism income.
“This is definitely a step in the right direction,” said Tourism Hotels Association of Sri Lanka’s president Sanath Ukwatte, citing the case of Indonesia, which saw tourist arrivals grow significantly after offering VoAs to nationals from multiple countries, including Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka attracted more than 2.3 million visitors last year and is targeting three million visitors this year.