Sri Lanka has decided to issue free visas to several countries as part of its “Pilot Project.” India is one of the countries included in this initiative. According to a statement by Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Sabry, this program will be in effect until March 31, 2024. Sri Lanka has immediately implemented free visas for travelers from China, Russia, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, and India.
Free Tourist Visas Until March 31
The Sri Lankan Cabinet approved the policy of granting free tourist visas to travelers from India and six other countries amid efforts to revive the tourism sector in the island nation, which is burdened with debt. Ali Sabry, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, shared this information on the social media platform X.
Reasons for Approving Free Visas
Currently, Sri Lanka allows tourists from seven countries to obtain visas free of charge. This policy change can be traced back to several key reasons. One significant factor was a decline in tourist arrivals following the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka in 2019. These attacks, which claimed the lives of 270 people, including 11 Indians, and left over 500 injured, had a profound impact on the tourism industry in Sri Lanka.
Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic difficulties in the country led to a significant reduction in tourist arrivals. In this context, Sri Lanka views this move as crucial to revitalizing its economy.
About Free Visas
A visa-free journey means that one can travel to a country without requiring a visa. This typically occurs when both countries have a mutual agreement or when the destination country unilaterally opens its borders to foreign nationals.
Sri Lanka’s decision to grant free tourist visas is seen as a positive step towards encouraging international travelers, including those from India, to visit the island nation. This initiative, which will be in effect until March 2024, is a testament to Sri Lanka’s commitment to reviving its tourism industry and boosting its economy after facing significant challenges in recent years.