Sri Lanka slashes online visa fees

Sri Lanka has a wealth of wildlife attractions

SRI LANKA has reduced a proposed $50 online visa fee it planned to introduce from next year in replacement of its visa-on-arrival system.

Nalaka Godahewa, the chairman Sri Lanka Board of Tourism, says the online visa fee has been revised to $10 and $20 for South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (Saarc) and other countries respectively with effect from 2012.

However, countries which offer free entrance or on-arrival visas for Sri Lankans will be appropriately reciprocated, Godahewa said. The on-arrival visa system will continue as a reciprocal gesture for people travelling from The Maldives and Singapore, the two countries reciprocating the facility for Sri Lankans. 

Sri Lanka’s Immigration and Emigration Department launched an electronic travel authorisation (ETA) system last month to grant prior approval for visas online for foreign nationals from 78 countries, effective January 2012. Earlier the government decided to charge $50 for a tourist visa with double entry for 30 days, $60 for a business visa with multiple entry for 30 days, and $25 for transit visa with single entry for seven days.

Meanwhile,  tourist arrivals from January to October this year have surpassed last year’s annual arrivals of 654,476 and the tourist board expects the number to near one million by end of the year.