In Sri Lanka, tourism leaders are worried because the government has raised the cost of visas. This change makes it more expensive for travelers to visit the country. Tourism experts are concerned that these higher fees will make tourists choose other destinations where it costs less to travel, such as Thailand or Vietnam.

Sri Lanka Tourism at Risk from Increased Visa Charges
World's end trail, Horton plains national park, Sri Lanka
(Photo : Eddy Billard on Unsplash)

Sri Lanka Visa Fee Hike Threatens Tourist Influx

The decision to increase the visa fees was made as Sri Lanka is trying to attract 2.5 million tourists by the end of the year. However, this goal might be hard to reach now because the more expensive visas could stop people from visiting. 

Travel and Tour World revealed that the standard tourist visa now costs $75 for people from countries not in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). This price is 50% more than it used to be. For people from SAARC countries, the visa price is now $35.

Tourism officials have asked the President of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, to bring back the old prices. They believe that keeping travel costs low is essential to encourage tourists to visit. 

The new e-Visa system, which replaces the older Electronic Travel Authorization system, is meant to make traveling to Sri Lanka easier and more efficient. Despite this, the higher fees might make it tough for Sri Lanka's tourism industry to compete with other countries.

As Sri Lanka's tourism sector faces these challenges, the outcome of the new visa pricing policy is still uncertain. The government's response to the concerns of the tourism industry is highly anticipated. 

People in the travel business are hoping for a solution that keeps Sri Lanka an attractive and affordable destination for tourists. The situation shows the difficult balance between improving services and keeping travel costs reasonable.

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Extends Visa-Free Entry for Seven Countries

Sri Lanka has extended its visa-free entry policy for travelers from seven countries until May 31, 2024. This policy allows visitors from India, China, Indonesia, Russia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Japan to enter Sri Lanka without a visa. 

The program, which began in October 2023 and was initially set to end in March 2024, has been successful in increasing the number of tourists, leading to extensions first through April and now into May next year.

As per Travel and Leisure Asia, travelers from these countries must apply for an e-visa before their trip but will not be charged any fees. The e-visa is valid for a single entry and allows a stay of up to 30 days. 

To apply, visitors need a valid passport, a personal photo, proof of where they will stay in Sri Lanka, and a flight confirmation. Applications can be made through Sri Lanka's official visa website.

This visa-free program is part of Sri Lanka's efforts to boost tourism by making it easier and more attractive for tourists to visit. 

However, this should not be confused with full visa exemption, which applies to Singapore, Maldives, and Seychelles; travelers from these countries can enter with just their passport and stay for longer periods.

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