Govt. mulls free visas for travellers

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The tourism industry is hoping the government will open up the destination to more travellers by enticing them with free visas, a scheme that was underway during the winter season.

Now with the new VFS system in place the travellers have to continue to pay a convenience fee that is keeping from a free visa being issued to travellers.

For the moment the industry believes the visa concerns are now “ok” and now want the authorities to resume the issuance of free visa travel to tourists in a bid to attract more travellers to the destination.

Upto April this year tourist arrivals reached approximately 785,000 with a 103.08 per cent increase in January and the highest arrivals recorded in February at 218, 350.

Sri Lanka introduced the new VFS Global system of issuing visas on arrival and on its new website as well which was previously handled by the Department of Immigration. This caused confusion initially with the newly increased rates and charges made by the visa issuing company as well.

The authorities are said to be have established a committee to look into the provision of free visas to tourists visiting the country.

Nationals of India, China, Indonesia, Russia, Thailand, Malaysia and Japan enjoy free visa status but have to pay the convenience fee of US$10 while all other tourists have to pay a visa fee of $50.