Update: This new policy ended up being postponed, but was implemented as of August 1, 2019.
I’m a big fan of countries eliminating barriers to entry, whether that comes in the form of removing the hassle or cost associated with visiting. Over the past few months we’ve seen quite a few countries shake up their visa requirements, both for better and worse.
It looks like the latest country to adopt a friendlier policy for visitors is Sri Lanka. I’ve been to Sri Lanka many times, and as a visitor with a US and German passport, I’ve long had to either pay for a visa on arrival, or apply for an electronic visa in advance, at the cost of 35USD.
Sri Lanka’s Tourism Development Minister has said that the country will introduce free entry for visitors from multiple countries as of May 1, 2019. At least that’s being reported by Sri Lankan media, so you’ll still want to check Sri Lanka’s official immigration page closer to the date it’s implemented to make sure they actually follow through with this plan.
This is intended to boost tourism arrivals during the quieter months.
As the minister explained:
“We will start granting a six-month free visa period from 1 May for selected countries during our lean period to boost tourist arrivals.
As the next step of this program, we are planning on setting up a permanent system at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) to issue visa on-arrival, like in many other countries. We believe this would be a major breakthrough in attracting more visitors from this year.”
With this policy, free entry will be granted to those from all EU countries, Australia, Canada, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Furthermore, they hope to extend this to all SAARC countries and China.
Initially this will just be introduced as a six month trial to see the impact it has on tourism, though it has the potential to be extended.
Sri Lanka hopes to attract over three million tourists this year.
(Tip of the hat to Point Me To The Plane)