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Sri Lanka renews visa-free entry for India, select countries


Colombo, May 7 (IANS) To promote tourist arrivals to the Island nation, Sri Lanka renewed visa-free entry for visitors from India and several other select countries.The Sri Lankan government’s move will open exciting possibilities for seamless travel between the two nations.The country’s Cabinet on Monday decided to award free visa entry to nationals from India, China, Russia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia who are on a 30-day visit to the island nation.The scheme was launched in October as a pilot project to rebuild the tourism industry in the country.According to the Department of Immigration and Emigration which handles visa-free entry, foreigners from the above-mentioned countries should apply visa via website www.srilankaevisa.lk before arriving in Sri Lanka and the validity period of this free visa is 30 days.Meanwhile, amid recent controversy over high charges under a private company, the cabinet has decided to maintain $50 fee for visitors who enter the country on arrival visa for 30 days.”Amidst the notable progress in the country’s tourism sector, numerous stakeholders within the industry have recently urged President Ranil Wickremesinghe to maintain the maximum visa fee for foreigners at $50,” President Media Division (PMD) said.Shifting the visa-issuing process from the government to a private company with an increased fee up to $100 was criticised by many parties including tourism-related industries. They complained that the fee and complex procedure under the private player was discouraging tourists’ arrival to the country which is recovering from the worst-ever financial crisis.Tourism, one of leading foreign exchange earners of the country, has suffered a setback due to the Covid-19 pandemic and economic and political crises in the South Asian country.–IANSsfl/svn

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