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Sri Lanka includes India in free visa on arrival scheme

Sri Lanka on Wednesday included India and China in the free visa-on-arrival program to revive the country’s tourism sector which witnessed a slump following the Easter Sunday bombings.

In April, Sri Lanka suspended its plans to grant visas on arrival to citizens of 39 countries after the devastating Easter suicide bombings that killed 258 people.

Sri Lanka has re-launched the free visa on arrival scheme, which will be enforced from August 1, for the suspended 39 countries and has conjointly expanded the service to tourists from India and China, tourism and Christian Affairs Minister John Amaratunge was quoted as speech by the Sri Lanka Mirror news portal.

Previously, India and China weren’t included in the free visa program. Plans had been made to exempt many European countries from visa fee. However, the implementation of this scheme had been delayed because of the deadly attacks, Mr. Amaratunge said during a function held on Tuesday. The scheme was to come into force on May 1 originally.

The theme already allowed tourists from Thailand, the european Union, the UK, USA, Japan, Australia, switzerland, and Cambodia.

Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals declined 7.5% in April 2019 compared to the same period last year, according to the Sri Lanka tourism Development Authority’s 1st monthly report since the terror attacks.

The visas on arrival pilot program were a part of a larger initiative to increase traveller arrivals to the country throughout the six month off-season period from may to October.

The island nation received 7,40,600 foreign tourists in the 1st 3 months of 2019. Around 450,000 Indians visited Sri Lanka last year and the island nation was expecting the total Indian traveller arrivals to cross one million mark in 2019.

The tourism business expects the arrivals to totally recover in three to four months.

Also Read, VFS Global to open UK visa section in India on Saturdays for students

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