Visa on arrival programme likely to make comeback

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The government plans to revive the recently suspended free visa and visa on arrival programme from August 1 this year for 39 countries.

Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga yesterday revealed that his ministry along with the Department of Immigration and Emigration are jointly working on a proposal to seek Cabinet approval to revive the free visa and visa on arrival programme.

The initiative which was to come into force from May 1 was suspended indefinitely following the Easter Sunday attacks on April 21.

Amaratunga noted that the programme will be implemented as a trial for period of six months excluding Sri Lanka’s top source markets India and China.

However, he said that the programme could be extended to those two counties as well in the future based on the success of the trial run.

The minister emphasised that a monitoring system would be in place to prevent “undesirable people” entering the country.

“We need a system to monitor who is arriving in Sri Lanka and to prevent criminals and other troublemakers entering the country,” he stressed.

The countries that will be included in the visa on arrival programme are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States of America, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand and Switzerland.