The government is considering reviving the recently suspended free visa and visa on arrival to a number of countries except India and China.
Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga said told a media briefing in Colombo at the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM) on Tuesday that they had plans to recommence the free visa and visa on arrival that had earlier been granted cabinet approval. The cabinet paper would be jointly submitted with the Immigration Department.
This was halted temporarily following the April 21 Easter bombings, the minister said noting that however since the situation in the country was returning to normal the government believes they could revive these plans to bring in more tourists to the country.
A revival cabinet paper would be drafted in this regard to issue a free visa and visa on arrival however, the minister noted caution would be observed to ensure that no "undesirable people" would enter the country. As a result visitors would be tracked to ensure their eligibility to tour the country.
The minister also said they will be holding another meeting with finance companies and banks together with the Central Bank Governor Indrajith Coomaraswamy on Thursday.
He noted that all should comply with the government request to grant the relief to the tourism sector else their licences would be cancelled.
Minister Amaratunga also announced the reduction in ground handling charges and other costs at the airport.
Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Chairman Johanne Jayaratne said that ground handling, fuel and embarkation levy reduced overall airline operations costs would drop from around 20-25 per cent at the BIA. (Sunimalee)
(Pics by Amila Gamage)
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