The prime minister of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, is looking into possibilities of making it so European travellers can go to Sri Lanka without a visa in the future. As many of these European countries provide a large influx of tourists to Sri Lanka, visa free travel should thus be an option, the prime minister believes.
Inhabitants of these countries would then be able to travel to Sri Lanka without a visa, provided the plans of Wickremesinghe go through. The minister of Tourism and Development has said this is certainly worth looking into to improve the tourism sector.
Countries with visa free travel
Precisely which countries would qualify for visa free travel to Sri Lanka remains unclear. In any case, these would include a number of European countries of which the minister of Tourism is planning to implement visa free travel. Furthermore, countries like India, China and West Asia in general would also likely qualify, as these provide by far the most tourists to Sri Lanka.
Visa free, but not for the whole year
The goal is not to provide these countries with permanent visa free travel throughout the year. Initial experiments will focus on a select few months, meant to maximize the tourist count. Even with the new legislation, travelling outside of these months still requires a Sri Lanka visa. This is to avoid ‘chaos’, according to the minister of Tourism.
The periods the Sri Lankan government are currently eyeing are October to November and March to April. The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) is currently working on the proposition of the minister. Later in the year, they will reveal whether it is viable or not.
Aside from visa free travel, the government wants to do even more to boost tourism to the country. Sri Lanka is in talks with airlines, tour operators and hotels to reduce the costs of trips to Sri Lanka during the holiday periods mentioned above. The goal is to make Sri Lanka appealing throughout the year.
Sri Lanka visa currently still required
The Sri Lanka visa is currently still mandatory for all British travellers. You won’t need to go to the embassy, the visa can be easily applied for online. The United Kingdom is one of the countries that qualifies for the e-visa program. This means that all of the visa applications for Sri Lanka can be done online, whether it be for business, tourism or transits. You are required to specify what your travel purpose is before applying.
The e-visa grants you the right to stay in the country for a maximum of 30 days. The benefit of an ETA Sri Lanka is that the entire application process happens online. After approval, it can be printed right away. Travellers that want to stay in the country for less than 30 days therefore won’t need to visit the embassy.
A Sri Lanka visa costs € 14,95 per person. Applying for a business visa comes with an added fee of € 17,50. After the visa has been granted, it can be used to travel to Sri Lanka. During the flight, you are handed a Disembarkation Card. On this card, you are required to write down your personal information and travel purpose. It must be presented at the passport check. The e-visa itself usually does not need to be shown, as the information can be found in the computer databases. Print the visa just to be sure, to present it in exceptional cases.