Govt. jacks up visa fee amid tourism recovery

Thursday, 18 April 2024 01:48 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


  • Shift to global processing company results in additional charges; $ 18.5 service fee and $ 7.27 convenience fee
  • Standard tourist visa fee hikes to $ 75 for non-SAARC countries, with additional charges totaling $ 100.77 
  • SAARC country tourist visa fee rises from $ 20 to $ 35; exemptions provided for Singapore, Maldives, Czech Republic and Seychelles
  • Industry raises concerns about potential impact on tourist arrivals, competitiveness of SL as tourist destination
  • Fears increase in visa fees may hinder sector’s stability, growth
  • Arrivals top 700,000 YTD with over 82,000 visitors welcomed in first 15 days of April

By Charumini de Silva

The Government has hiked the standard tourist visa fee by over 100%, coupled with the shift to a global processing company, which has raised eyebrows among industry stakeholders.

The announcement came on Tuesday, with the Immigration and Emigration Department unveiling the new visa procedures and the launch of an online visa issuing system which came live yesterday. 

However, the move to a global processing company has resulted in higher visa fees, drawing mixed reactions from industry players.

On 11 September, the Cabinet of Ministers approved to make crucial decisions regarding the appointment of an authorised agent for online 


Subsequently, on 11 December the Cabinet approved signing an agreement with GBS Technology Services and IVS Global – FZCO and VFS VF Worldwide Holdings Ltd. These organisations sought authorisation to serve as the official agents for the online submission of visa applications on behalf of foreigners visiting Sri Lanka.

Under the new system, the standard tourist visa fee, valid for 180 days with each stay restricted to 60 days for non-SAARC countries, has increased to $ 75 with additional charges, including a $ 18.5 service fee and a $ 7.27 convenience fee, bringing the total individual visa fee to $ 100.77. 

SAARC country tourists also increased from $ 20 to $ 35 now for the standard visa; exemptions are provided for Singapore, Maldives, Czech Republic and Seychelles.

The adjustment comes at a crucial time for Sri Lanka Tourism, which has been navigating challenges from the aftermath of the Easter Sunday attacks in 2019 and ongoing economic difficulties. 

The Immigration Department’s previous ETA system had garnered praise from tourists globally for its simplicity. 

The Government’s decision to increase visa fees has sparked concerns among industry stakeholders regarding its potential impact on tourist arrivals and Sri Lanka’s competitiveness as a tourist destination.

Despite signs of improvement in the tourism industry in 2024, with targets set at 2.3 million arrivals and over $ 4 billion in income, the increase in visa fees could pose challenges to the sector’s stability and growth.

During the first 15 days of April, Sri Lanka welcomed a total of 82,531 visitors, bringing the cumulative figure to 718,315. India, the UK, and Russia emerged as the top source markets during this period.

As Sri Lanka continues its journey towards economic recovery, finding a balance between revenue generation and attracting visitors will be crucial for sustaining growth in the tourism sector.

When inquired from Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Chairman Priantha Fernando if there are plans to provide free visas to over 50 countries, he said: “It is premature. A lot more work to be done, enabling consideration.”