Colombo, Aug 6 (PTI): Indian tourists visiting Sri Lanka may soon be exempted from visa requirement as the government is mulling granting visa free entry to visitors from countries like India and China, Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said on Monday.
Amaratunga said that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed a task force to study the possibility of granting visa free entry to visitors from certain tourist friendly nations to boost arrivals.
India and China along with some other European and West Asian nations can benefit from it, he said.
Following recommendations from the task force, this proposal may be implemented in the off season months of October to November and March to April, the minister said.
Sri Lanka’ tourism industry faced a difficult time until a decade back due to the civil war with the LTTE. However, in the recent years the island nation has emerged as a top tourism destination in Asia.
Tourist arrivals have recorded a growth of 15.3 per cent during the first half of 2018 compared with the same period last year.
India topped the number of tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka at 206,337 followed by the Chinese tourist whose figures stood at 136,294.
All tourists to Sri Lanka must obtain an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) before their arrival.
On the basis of reciprocity, citizens of Singapore, the Maldives and the Seychelles are exempt from the ETA and can obtain a visa on arrival free of charge.