Free visa on arrival programme being revived with new background checks

The free visa on arrival programme, which was to be implemented in April but was suspended following the Easter attacks, will be implemented soon, with new background checks for security reasons.

PM Ranil Wickremesinghe has instructed Minister John Amaratunga to prepare a cabinet paper to revive the already approved free visa on arrival program. Amaratunga told a press conference today that he has already instructed his Secretary to prepare the Cabinet paper.

Since the original free visa on arrival programme was prone to misuse, the Ministry is in the process of developing a system where they can track the whereabouts of passengers as soon as they book a ticket to Sri Lanka. If that person has a bad record, they will inform the immigration and emigration department (check this institution) not to allow the particular person.

Tourists from 41 countries will benefit from this programme including those from USA, UK, Australia, EU and Japan.

India and China, Sri Lanka’s two biggest tourism source markets, are not included in the original list of 41, but may be added later based on the success of the programme.

It is widely known that a large number of Indian and Chinese nationals are working in Sri Lanka illegally by overstaying their visas.

The Government is targeting to bring down 2.5 million tourists this year through this programme, in spite of the Easter attacks impact on tourism.