Sri Lanka has relaxed visa regulations and extended stay allowance from 30 days to between 180 and 270 days to boost the country’s sagging tourism industry.
According to a tourism ministry statement on August 12, tourists who apply for an ETA will be permitted to stay up to 180 days. Previously, they were allowed a 30-day stay with multiple entry. Meanwhile, single entry visa travellers will be able to stay up to 270 days.
The tourism industry has been battered in recent years, starting off with terror attacks on hotels and churches in mid-2018, followed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing economic collapse owing to shortages in fuel, food and medicine. Adverse travel advisories against Sri Lanka by many countries today have exacerbated the crisis.
The decision to relax the duration of stay was welcomed by tourism industry stakeholders.
To further encourage inbound traffic, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau’s chairman Chalaka Gajabahu said the organisation is planning roadshows and promotions in three Indian cities – Mumbai, Delhi, and Hyderabad – this September.
The bureau will also continue to position Sri Lanka at global tourism tradeshows. However, with the shortage of foreign exchange, the bureau will only participate in World Travel Mart (WTM) in London this November and ITB Berlin next March.