Elderly tourists raise state revenue
The Immigration Department has begun implementing a series of measures like long-stays for elderly foreigners in a bid to raise more revenue for the government,
Sunil Hettiarachchi, Deputy Controller, Administration and Policy, at the department, said a new concept called CARE Tourism targeting foreigners over 55 came into effect on March 17.
Under this, eligible foreigners will be given a 1-year visa. They have to deposit $20,000 in the bank and monthly US$1,500 in their account for daily expenses. They are barred from working and cannot do business. Another new area of revenue is where the department is charging Rs 1,000 per passport (from zero earlier) that is couriered to embassies overseas (without offices here) for visa approvals. Everyday there are 300 passports that are couriered where the department approval must be obtained by couriers, Hettiarachchi said.
The entry fee for visiting seamen has also been increased to Rs 1,000 from Rs 5 at Sri Lankan ports, a charge that is being borne by the ship’s agent. In the passport approval process, the department has tied up with Mobitel to provide an ‘SMS’ to applicants whenever their passport is ready for collection. “This way they need not spend time at our office to check on the status,” he said adding that this will benefit those who have mobile phones.