Sri Lanka latest in Asia to manipulate visa facilities in bid to combat outbreak

Several countries globally have temporarily halted issuance of visas for short-term visitors

Following the move by India, Vietnam and Thailand to tighten visa on arrival rules in a fight against the Covid-19 spread, Sri Lanka has now temporarily suspended the issuance of visas on arrival for foreign tourists.

Kimarli Fernando, chairperson of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, told TTG Asia on Thursday that Sri Lanka is taking measures to protect locals and visitors. Visas will, for now, only be available online.

Several countries globally have temporarily halted issuance of visas for short-term visitors

Fernando said the concerns of the tourism industry were examined at a meeting on Wednesday presided over by president Gotabaya Rajapaksa

The move comes as Sri Lanka on Monday announced its first local case of Covid-19 infection – a middle-aged tour guide who had been accompanying a group of Italian tourists to many parts of the country.

Among other safety precautions in place is a 14-day quarantine for all visitors arriving from Italy, Iran and South Korea, including Sri Lankans working in those countries.

India had earlier announced its decision to suspend all tourist visas from today until April 15, as countries across South Asia report a rise in cases on Wednesday. India has also closed a border with neighbouring Myanmar.

Thailand has suspended visa-on-arrival for visitors from 18 countries, including Bulgaria, Bhutan, China (including Taiwan), India, Kazakhstan, Russia and Saudi Arabia. Visa exemption will also be cancelled for South Korean, Italian and Hong Kong citizens.

As well, Vietnam has temporarily suspended visa-free travel from eight European countries. Travellers from the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden will no longer be given visa waivers for now, its government said on Monday.

The country halted visa-free travel from South Korea in late February and Italy earlier this month.

Beyond Asia, Kuwait has temporarily stopped issuing visas and entry permits.

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