Govt. ramps-up visa process to boost tourist arrivals

Saturday, 13 August 2022 00:38 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • SLTPB to kick off 3 roadshows in India next month

By Charumini de Silva

Tourism Minister Harin Fernando
SLTPB Chairman Chalaka Gajabahu

Ahead of the much-awaited tourism roadshows in India, the Government has ramped-up the visa processes to boost arrivals thereby enable a faster recovery of the triple-hit leisure industry.

The Tourism Ministry yesterday announced that the Cabinet of Ministers has approved a host of measures to extend longer visa visas.  As per the Tourism Ministry, it has been decided to permit tourist visas for up to 180 days for those who apply via Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), whilst allowing single entry visa travellers to stay up to 270 days and extending the multiple entry visa for a year at once, which was previously limited to only 90 days.

“Upon discussing the Cabinet proposal submitted by Tourism Minister Harin Fernando on the suitability of issuing visas at once for a longer period, President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Defence Minister presented a fresh Cabinet paper which was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers,” a statement issued by the Ministry noted.

It also added that the support extended by the newly appointed 22-member Tourism Advisory Committee veterans representing various fields was indeed a pleasure. 

Separately, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) confirmed that the long-awaited tourism roadshows in India will kick off next month.

“We are looking at promotions in India, which continues to be the largest tourist market for Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Tourism is planning to go ahead with promotions in key three 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 along with the newly appointed brand ambassador – Sri Lanka’s iconic cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya.

As per the Tourism Ministry, the appointment of Jayasuriya has been made in view of presenting a program to attract tourists from around the world, as he has been a flag 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 road shows are planned for India, as an immediate promotion, whilst they hope to roll out a marketing campaign in risk-averse markets such as India, the Middle East, Russia, and CIS countries soon.

The same month, Sri Lanka Tourism kicked off the ‘Sri Lanka Can’ campaign, to boost arrivals, with the support from Bollywood actors Chitrangada Singh and Dino Morea who will speak positively about the atmosphere in destination Sri Lanka

Minister Fernando said Sri Lanka is optimistic about achieving one million travellers by the end of the year, whilst capitalising on new markets as well as on the neighbouring giant – India. 

During the first 11 days of August, Sri Lanka welcomed over 16,000 tourists, a slight uptick in arrivals compared to the previous three months. 

According to the provisional data by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), a total of 16,643 have arrived during the first 11-days of the month, whilst pushing the cumulative figure to 475,313. 

India continues to stand strong as the top tourist source market for Sri Lanka with the cumulative number of arrivals at 76,581 year-to-date, followed by the UK with 62,421, Russia with 49,006, Germany with 38,573, and France 27,082.

As of 11 August, the UK topped the 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 that daily average arrivals have improved marginally to 1,513 from 1,503 for the entirety of July, 1,095 in June, and 974 in May – extending some hope to the triple-hit industry since 2019.