In a bid to boost tourism, Minister of Tourism Harin Fernando yesterday (30) said the Cabinet has approved a five year-multiple entry tourist visa, with six months stay each time, for a traveller and this has been granted for 35 countries around the world. Earlier, a traveller could stay for only 30 days (single entry) with multiple entry period issued only for one year.
This follows the removal of travel advisories on Sri Lanka by Norway, Denmark, Sweden, UK, Switzerland, France, issued owing to the protests, political and financial instability in the country. The tour operators have quoted that after the relaxing of the travel advisories they are now expecting more tourists from these countries to come during the winter season.
The tourism sector is struggling to revive due to the current economic crisis and even the air ticket purchasing rate is comparatively higher than purchasing the same ticket overseas.
Currently, locals are purchasing their air tickets overseas using their kith and kin and friends at half the price.
According to Sri Lanka Tourism, between January and August 2022, 494,051 tourists have visited Sri Lanka and they hope an increase of at least 700,000 by end of this year. Currently there are more tourists from the United Kingdom followed by India. This month (August) alone 35,381 tourists have arrived in Sri Lanka.
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan