Sri Lanka’s Cabinet has granted its approval for the immediate issuance of free visas to citizens of India, China, Russia, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand, marking the launch of a pilot project set to run until March 31, 2024. The announcement was made by Sri Lanka’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali Sabry, through a tweet.
In March, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry emphasized the paramount significance of the country’s relationship with India in their foreign policy.
A noteworthy development has taken place, allowing visitors from certain nations to obtain Sri Lankan visas free of charge. Historically, India has been the primary source of inbound tourism for Sri Lanka.
According to PTI reports for September, India led the way with over 30,000 arrivals, constituting 26 percent of the total, while Chinese tourists ranked second, with more than 8,000 arrivals.
Sri Lanka experienced a decline in tourist arrivals following the tragic 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, which resulted in the loss of 270 lives, including 11 Indians, and left more than 500 individuals injured.
Since gaining independence from Britain in 1948, Sri Lanka has grappled with severe economic challenges. Currently, the country is facing political unrest, with protests demanding President Rajapaksa’s resignation.
The economic crisis has led to critical shortages of essential items, including food, medicine, cooking gas, fuels, toilet paper, and even matches. Sri Lankans have endured long queues outside stores for months, waiting for hours to purchase fuel and cooking gas due to these shortages.
The Ministry of Tourism recently disclosed that a Cabinet Paper was introduced during the latest Cabinet meeting, proposing the issuance of complimentary tourist visas to travelers from five countries planning to visit Sri Lanka for tourism, as reported by The Daily Mirror.