Govt. speeds up the visa process to boost tourist arrivals

  • SLTPB will launch 3 roadshows in India next month

By Charumini de Silva

Ahead of India’s much-anticipated tourism roadshows, the government has accelerated visa processes to boost arrivals, enabling a faster recovery for the three-hit leisure industry.

The Ministry of Tourism announced yesterday that the Cabinet of Ministers had approved a series of measures to extend longer visas. According to the Ministry of Tourism, it has been decided to allow tourist visas for up to 180 days for those applying via Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), while allowing travelers with a single-entry visa to stay until to 270 days and extending the multiple-entry visa for one year at a time, which was previously limited to just 90 days.

“After discussing the Cabinet proposal submitted by Tourism Minister Harin Fernando on whether to issue visas immediately for a longer period, President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as Minister of Defense, presented a new Cabinet document which has been approved by the Cabinet of Ministers,” a statement released by the ministry noted.

He also added that the support provided by the veterans of the Tourism Advisory Board of 22 newly appointed members representing various fields was indeed a pleasure.

Separately, the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Board (SLTPB) has confirmed that the long-awaited tourism roadshows in India will begin next month.

“We are considering promotions in India, which continues to be Sri Lanka’s biggest tourist market. Sri Lanka Tourism plans to launch promotions in three key cities, tentatively around the third week of September,” SLTPB chairman Chalaka Gajabahu told the Daily FT.

He said the three cities include; Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad, which will be promoted with the new brand ambassador – the iconic Sri Lankan cricketer, Sanath Jayasuriya.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, the appointment of Jayasuriya was made with a view to presenting a program to attract tourists from all over the world, because he has been a standard bearer of the country’s reputation for many years, and because of his worldwide fan following and undisputed recognition.

In June, Tourism Minister Fernando revealed that three roadshows were planned for India as an immediate promotion as they hope to launch a marketing campaign soon in risk-averse markets such as India, the Middle East, Russia and the CIS countries.

In the same month, Sri Lanka Tourism launched the ‘Sri Lanka Can’ campaign, to boost arrivals, with support from Bollywood actors Chitrangada Singh and Dino Morea who will speak positively about the atmosphere to Sri Lanka.

Minister Fernando said Sri Lanka is optimistic of reaching one million travelers by the end of the year, while capitalizing on new markets as well as neighboring giant India.

In the first 11 days of August, Sri Lanka welcomed more than 16,000 tourists, a slight increase in arrivals from the previous three months.

According to provisional data from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), a total of 16,643 arrived in the first 11 days of the month, bringing the cumulative figure to 475,313.

India continues to be Sri Lanka’s top tourist source market with cumulative arrivals at 76,581 year-to-date, followed by UK at 62,421, Russia at 49,006 , Germany with 38,573 and France with 27,082.

As of August 11, the UK led tourist traffic to Sri Lanka with 21% or 3,542, followed by India with 11% or 1,789 visitors and France with 10% or 1,631 travellers.

The data also showed average daily arrivals improved slightly to 1,513 from 1,503 for the whole of July, 1,095 in June and 974 in May, giving hope to the travel industry. triple success since 2019.

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