Lankan break for global digital nomads still in the works

Friday, 6 August 2021 03:25 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Charumini de Silva

Sri Lanka Tourism yesterday said the visa fee for digital nomads has still not been decided, citing that the Department of Immigration and Emigration is yet to finalise it as well as the criteria.

“The Department of Immigration and Emigration is required to do an amendment to their regulations, and they are currently in the process of modifying the regulations to accommodate long-term visa. Once the preparation of criteria is completed, the Department will then decide on visa fee,” Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando told the Daily FT.

Following Sri Lanka being ranked second-best for digital nomads in 2021 by the influential French travel and tourism operator Club Med, the Government decided to attract the fast-growing segment of travellers with long term one-year visas.

People who use digital technology for their livelihood and travel around the world are called digital tourists or nomads and facilitating such tourists has been a growing trend in the tourism industry. 

Fernando confirmed that no information regarding the visa fee for digital nomad promotion has been shared with Sri Lanka Tourism thus far. 

“After doing a study it was proposed that the visa fee of $ 500 up to one year with the fee of $ 50 for each month extended is a good way to go. However, the decision is still with the Department of Immigration,” Fernando added.

When asked on a timeline of rolling out the promotion, Fernando said it can be immediately launched.

“Once immigration clears, we can promote it,” she quipped.

The proposal by Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga proposes launching a promotion program by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau aimed at attracting digital nomads to the country, as well as the introduction of a long-term visa category for them.

The Government believes the move would help position Sri Lanka as a favourable destination for digital nomads.

“Digital nomads support SME’s due to their long stay and will support the development of a people centric economy,” Fernando said.

In describing Sri Lanka, which ranks second, Club Med said: “The colourful country of Sri Lanka is a paradise for nomads.

“Sri Lanka came high up on our list as the second-best country for digital nomads to visit. With low living costs and a beautiful working backdrop of lush green mountains, coral reefs and powdery sand, it’s clear to see why Sri Lanka offers such a great remote working experience,” it said.

Tourist arrivals in the first seven months reached 19,337, a welcome development since the reopening of the borders on 21 January, but down by 96% from the corresponding period a year earlier. 

In July, tourist arrivals increased by 50% to 2,429 from June, despite the travel restrictions in place because of the ongoing third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Europe was the largest source region with 13,212 travellers of the total traffic received in the first seven months, whilst Asia and Pacific and the Americas accounted for 3,904 and 1,756 tourists respectively. 

Despite the minor improvements observed with the reopening of countries, the recovery remains to be fragile and uncertain due to rising concerns over Delta and other variants that are gradually developing, especially in Asia and Pacific region.