The Sri Lankan Government said yesterday it was suspending plans to grant citizens of 39 countries visa-free entry during the country’s tourism-low season after Easter Sunday’s terror attacks, AFP reported yesterday.
Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said though arrangements had been made to issue visas on arrival for citizens of 39 countries including EU member states, Australia and the United States, during the low season from May 1, the government had now decided to put it on hold considering the current security situation.
“Investigations have revealed foreign links to the Easter attacks and we don’t want this programme to be abused,” he said. The scheme did not include China and India, from where many of the visitors come. The devastating Easter Sunday suicide bombings against churches and hotels killed 359 people, including dozens of foreigners.
The blasts have rocked the country’s burgeoning tourism industry, which is one of its most important foreign exchange earners.
Some 740,600 foreign tourists had visited Sri Lanka in the first three months of the year, up 4.6 percent for the same period last year.
Nearly 2.33 million tourists visited the country in 2018 with the Lonely Planet guide book naming it the world’s top travel destination for 2019.