Sun, 21 Apr 2024 Today's Paper

Visa free travel to enhance tourism industry potential

5 March 2024 05:35 am - 8     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Tourism in Sri Lanka is on a high growth trajectory following a boost in the country’s potential as a must-visit destination.

 Visa free travel for tourists from China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Thailand, Malaysia and Japan has provided the right nudge for tourists to put Sri Lanka on the top of their travel bucket list.

Nationals from these countries planning to visit Sri Lanka need to apply for Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) before arriving, subject to granting of visa free of charge.

 The scheme is valid until March 2024 while the visa is valid for 30 days, permitting double entry from the date of initial arrival to Sri Lanka. However, industry sources believe that the boost in tourist arrivals may encourage the visa free travel scheme to be extended further.

Having welcomed  208,253 visitors in January this year alone,  the highest in 4 years, the figures confirm a YoY increase of 103.1 percent. Tourists from India, Russia, the UK, Germany and China top the list with 28,493 arrivals in the first four days of February 2024, confirming a figure of 7,000 travellers a day. 

The tourist arrivals are led by Russia with a 15 percent market share while India holds second position with 4,123 travellers. UK was seen as the third best market, with 2,592 (9 percent) arrivals with Germany (1,977) and China (1950).

A record number of tourists are visiting Sri Lanka – it was over 200,000 tourists during In January 2024 and during the first 12 days of February, the figure was almost 92,000.  Likely to receive 2 million visitors in 2024, the tourism sector could generate a revenue of USD 6 billion within the year.

Avanthi Colombage, Country Manager for Visa in Sri Lanka says that as visiting Sri Lanka becomes a veritable option for tourists, offering visa free travel will boost arrivals and consequently, the digital economy. Today’s travelers are well versed with digital payment options and would expect to be able to pay without cash anywhere, with the ease of use, safety and access of digital paymentslike they do around the world, she adds.

Colombage says that tourism is a key sector of economic activity for Sri Lanka, contributing significantly to our country’s income. It also requires the wider merchant ecosystem – from mom-&-pop stores to micro-businesses to large merchants – to broad base the acceptance of digital payments, whether online or offline. “Tourists visiting Sri Lanka can then rely on a convenient, smooth and safe payment experience during their stay here.”

The recent Global Travel Intentions Study by Visa, confirm that today’s travelers look for experiential travel and not merely visiting tourist hotspots – which makes ubiquitous, seamless and secure payment access critical.

Developing Sri Lanka’s payment infrastructure and ensuring a variety of options to travelers wherever they go – from cards, contactless payments and QR code payments to online and ecommerce payments would enhance tourism.


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  Comments - 8

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  • Adwani Tuesday, 05 March 2024 07:17 AM

    It is a God given achievement and now the Tourist Police must be on high alert to provide the necessary protection at each and every step. The Tourist Police must not drink and fall asleep or try to do any favour to local in the event of any dispute that may arise and deal with overstayers very kindly and friendly. Our country was robbed of its foreign reservers by locals not by Tourists.

    Spartacus Tuesday, 05 March 2024 08:45 AM

    No choice when country is reduced to begging.

    THE TRUTH Tuesday, 05 March 2024 09:33 AM

    GIVE FIRST, WHO THOSE FOREIGN PASSPORT BORN IN SRI LANKA.

    fact Tuesday, 05 March 2024 09:48 AM

    Make it visa free for all the national not only selected countries specially to arab gulf ,europe ,easters asia etc .This will hugely boos tourism

    Allow All Tourist to Extend Visa Freely Tuesday, 05 March 2024 11:43 AM

    Absolutely and allow them to extend for a few more months if they have no issues with SL laws. So long they are law abiding and not involved in politics, allow them to enjoy the hospitality and scenic SL free and easy without the worry of visa issues. Tourist general will contribute to the country.

    mila Tuesday, 05 March 2024 10:15 AM

    Sri Lankan born who live in other countries should get Visa-free travel. Also, pls make toilets at railway stations and other places clean. How can tourists use the toilet when it's so dirty?

    ANNEPUSSEY Tuesday, 05 March 2024 01:43 PM

    tourists must be allowed to sit in the parliament during parliament session to advice the ministers our ministers are uneducated crooks

    Wesley Michael Wednesday, 06 March 2024 10:33 AM

    Getting an extension to your visa online is a nightmare . Plus the fees are more than double relative to 30 day visa . Makes no sense


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