The Sri Lankan Government may soon exempt Indians visiting the island country from the visa requirement, as the Government is considering to grant visa-free entry to visitors from countries like India and China. This was announced by Sri Lanka's Tourism Minister John Amartunga and he also said that the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed a task force to understand and study what are the possibilities that the decision will boost tourism by granting visa-free entry or visa on arrival to some tourist friendly nations. The tourism minister is of the opinion that it will not only benefit India and China but also some other European and West Asian nations will be able to benefit from this grant.
The Government after taking recommendations from the task force, maty implement the grant during the months of October to November and March to April, as this is the off-season for tourism. This will help easily identiy the growth rate in tourism, with and without the grant. For years, the island nation was involved in a civil war with the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) and as a result the tourism industry was facing a tough time. But, things have changed for the better for Sri Lanka in the recent years. This South Asian country has emerged as one of the top tourist destinations in the continent.
In comparison to 2017, the tourist arrivals have recorded a growth of 15.3 percent during the first half of 2018. This growth can be attributed to tourist from India and China, as India had the highest number of tourist arrivals in the island nation with 206,337 people. With 136,294 tourists, China followed India in contributing to Sri Lankan tourism. For tourists to travel to Sri Lanka, they must obtain ETA or Electronic Travel Authorisation before they arrive at the nation. But, the ETA is currently exempted for citizens of three countries- Singapore, the Maldives, and Seychelles. The citizens of these countries can obtain a visa on arrival for free of cost. This exemption is obtained based on a mutual exchange between countries. Meanwhile, holders of diplomatic, official or service passports of few countries are permitted to travel to Sri Lanka without a passport. These countries include India and Pakistan as well.
Currently, Indians can travel to 58 countries without a visa. These countries include Thailand, Maldives, Indonesia, Mauritius, Madagascar, Jamaica, British Virgin Island, El Salvador among others. There are few countries from every continent that allow Indians to travel without a visa or provide visa on arrival, except in the European continent. All European nations require a pre-approved visa before visiting the countries.