Sri Lanka sets visa deadline for Russian, Ukrainian tourists


  • Complementary visa extension ended on 23 February 25
  • Offers a grace period of 14 days to get visa documents in order, or leave


Russian and Ukrainian tourists in Sri Lanka have been advised by authorities to ensure their visas are in order or depart the island nation. 
The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) has stated in a notice that the complimentary visa extensions for these tourists ended on 23 February 2024. 
However, a grace period of 14 days, expiring on 7 March 2024, has been provided for them to either return home or extend their visas through the formal process.

Acknowledging the challenges faced by these tourists in returning home due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Sri Lanka has permitted those affected by flight suspensions to remain in the country for up to two years, effective since 28 February 2022. Alongside the free visa extensions, no penalties have been imposed on individuals with expired tourist visas.

The notice came shortly after several complaints were put forward by stakeholders of the tourism sector on tourists engaging in business activities without following the required legal process, which in turn has affected the businesses of locals in the industry.
However, President Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday ordered an investigation into the notification to Russian and Ukrainian tourists since it was issued without prior Cabinet approval.

President’s Media Division (PMD) said the government has not officially decided to revoke the visa extensions previously granted to these tourists. Meanwhile, speaking to Mirror Business, SLTDA Chairman Priantha Fernando said that the tourists engaged in business activities are those who have been in the island for some years, and not those who have arrived recently.

“The regular tourists who arrive via charters are on a programme. They are taken care of by the local agent as well as the tour operator, and they go back after two weeks. The issue arises from those who are here on longer stays,” he said.

Fernando stressed the authorities need to step up efforts to ensure that the tourists conform to the laws of the country.
Since the global pandemic, the Russian Federation has been a key source market for Sri Lanka tourism. While in 2020 it ranked as the third largest tourist traffic generator, in 2021, 2022, and 2023, it ranked as the second largest source market for Sri Lanka tourism.

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