The Sri Lankan cabinet on Tuesday approved a proposal to grant free visas to travellers from seven countries for a period of five months. These countries are India, China, Russia, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan and Indonesia. Sri Lanka Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Sabry said that the free visa travel has begun with immediate effect as a pilot project till March 31, 2024.
“Cabinet approves issuing of free visas to India, China, Russia, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia and Thailand with immediate effect as a pilot project till 31 March,” Sabry said in a post on X formerly known as Twitter.
The development comes almost a week after the Sri Lankan Ministry of Tourism said that it had presented a Cabinet paper during the previous Cabinet meeting. This paper proposed issuing free tourist visas to foreigners from five countries.
Besides free tourist visas, the Cabinet also proposed an e-ticketing system for most of the tourist sites in Sri Lanka in the near future.
The move is aimed at attracting more tourists to the island nation. “We are expecting to increase tourist arrivals to five million over the coming years,” the ministry was quoted as saying in Sri Lankan media outlets.
The proposed free visas and e-ticketing system will save money and time spent on obtaining visas, the statement read. Sri Lanka is also among the 20 countries that China has announced for travel by Chinese tourists.
The development also comes a month after Ali Sabry said in an exclusive interview with news agency ANI that Sri Lanka is looking at forging a closer relationship with India while adding they are trying for electricity, renewable energy, tourism and port shipping connectivity.
He also emphasised that India is one of the fastest growing largest economies globally. “It is a big economy. India is growing and that growth path is very important. Together with that, the region must grow,” Sabry stated.
Sabry further mentioned that his country has seen a big opportunity in India. “We have seen a big opportunity here, that’s the idea. I’m sure we will be able to do that and that will be better for both countries,” he said.
With inputs from agencies
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