Online Visa scheme
By Supun Dias
Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Chairman Nalaka Godahewa said the Immigration Department has already completed the online visa scheme programme through the web and a pilot run off will be initiated to test the system.
"A minimum of three months will be needed to test the system. However no changes will be made to the prevailing in the country when obtaining visa till the Immigration Department is satisfied with the outcome and effectiveness of the online system", he said.
"The suggestion was made last year to implement an online visa scheme for tourists to promote the tourism industry in the country. Most of them have to go to embassies and collect the requirements in obtaining a visa", he added. Visitors to Sri Lanka from Singapore and the Maldives, which grant Sri Lankan passport holders landing permits on arrival, would be reciprocally exempted from having to obtain a visa before reaching the island.
Sri Lanka currently issues foreign tourists a 30-day visa on arrival since the 1970s as part of tourism promotion.
The tourism industry in Sri Lanka is showing rapid growth since the end of terrorism in May 2009, and the country has been ranked as one of the most popular destinations for tourists in 2010. In the year 2010 more than 620,000 tourists have visited the country and seen a 50 per cent increase in foreign visitor arrivals since May last year.
Sri Lanka hopes to attract over 700,000 tourists in the New Year. The Tourism authorities have launched a campaign announcing "2011 - Visit Sri Lanka Year", he said.