COLOMBO – In a significant development, the authorities in Sri Lanka have revealed that the country is considering an extension regarding the visa exemption for Indian tourists.
The announcement was made by the Minister of Tourism and Land, Sports and Youth Affairs, Harin Fernando on Thursday, aiming to establish Sri Lanka as a readily accessible destination for Indian tourists.
Initially launched as a pilot program in December last year, this visa-free access program is set to conclude on March 31 of this year. Under the current program, Indian travelers can enjoy visa-free entry for the initial 30 days of their stay. Additionally, they are granted dual entry privileges, with visa validity restricted to 30 days within Sri Lanka upon arrival.
The introduction of the visa exemption policy, as a gesture of appreciation towards Indian tourists, has played a crucial role in reviving Sri Lanka’s economy amidst recent political and economic challenges. Minister Harin Fernando expressed optimism that extending this policy would likely encourage repeat visits and attract more tourists from India to experience Sri Lanka’s diverse environment.
Fernando emphasized India’s significance as Sri Lanka’s top source market for tourism, highlighting the substantial contribution of Indian tourists to the country’s tourism industry. He envisions that the visa exemption extension will make Sri Lanka an easily accessible destination for last-minute trips, thereby boosting tourist arrivals.
It is to be noted that the passport of Sri Lanka is not very strong, as it is ranked 101st according to the Henley Passport Index 2024. The number of visa-free destinations for its citizens is 43.
Sri Lanka, an island nation in South Asia, boasts a population of approximately 22 million people. Renowned for its rich cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty, it features attractions like Sigiriya, Kandy, Galle Fort, and the tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya.