If you were planning to visit Sri Lanka and apply for a Sri Lankan visa, here’s some good news for you. The small island nation will be introducing free visas on arrival for citizens of more than 30 countries from 1 May this year.

Tourists from the UK; the US; Canada; Australia; New Zealand; Thailand; Singapore; Malaysia; South Korea; and the EU will be able to get a free Sri Lankan visa upon arriving at Bandaranaike International Airport. This will save visitors between US$20-40 in visa fees, making it easier and cheaper than ever to visit this stunning country

Sigiriya Rock, Sri Lanka
Sigiriya Rock or Lion Rock is an ancient fortress near Dambulla, Sri Lanka.

This proposal from the Minister of Tourism was approved by The Cabinet of Ministers on 19 March. It will allow the selected 39 countries an initial 6-month free visa period (from 1 April to 1 October 2019), but there are plans to make the scheme permanent if it is successful in boosting tourism.

New Sri Lankan visas for more than 30 nationalities

According to Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga, “We will run this as a pilot project initially in order to increase arrivals during the offseason. We estimate that this initiative will result in a 20 per cent increase in arrivals. Depending on its success in the initial period we will decide whether to continue with it.”

Galle Fort in Sri Lanka sri lankan visa
Galle Fort in Sri Lanka

While Sri Lanka is currently enjoying a surge in visitors; the monsoons season between May and August sees a sharp dip in numbers. The Government believes that this programme will act as an incentive to attract tourists. Therefore, it will help boost tourism during this lean period.

“As the next step of this program, we are planning on setting up a permanent system at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) to issue visa-on-arrival, like in many other countries. We believe this would be a major breakthrough in attracting more visitors from this year,” said Minister Amaratunga.

UPDATE: Due to the terrorist attack in Sri Lanka on 21st April 2019 (Easter Sunday), this visa-free entry has been suspended. A number of countries, including the US, Canada, and the UK, have all issued warnings against travelling to the country. 

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