Good news for Indian travellers, Sri Lanka is contemplating extending its free visas scheme for Indian tourists, potentially easing travel to the island nation beyond March. With India standing as Sri Lanka’s primary source market, this move is seen as pivotal in the country’s recovery efforts following recent challenges.
Sri Lanka Free Visa Regime
It is important to mention here that, in November 2023 Sri Lanka launched a free visa regime for nationals from seven countries including China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Japan effective immediately.
Pilot Project Overview
The pilot project, launched last year and set to conclude on March 31, 2024, currently offers free visas for the initial 30-day period of stay. Under this scheme, travellers receive dual entry status upon arrival, with visa validity restricted to 30 days in Sri Lanka.
Minister’s Declaration at OTM 2024
During a session at the OTM 2024 event, Harin Fernando, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Tourism and Lands, Sports, and Youth Affairs, expressed the government’s intention to prolong visa-free entry, a measure initially rolled out in December 2023.
The objective is to position Sri Lanka as an easily accessible destination for Indian tourists, enabling them to enjoy a seamless holiday experience by simply arriving in the country.
Streamlining Travel Processes
Fernando emphasized the necessity of simplifying travel procedures to attract more Indian tourists, particularly those inclined towards spontaneous travel plans who might find the visa application process cumbersome.
The goal is to not only boost footfall but also encourage repeat visits, recognizing the plethora of options available to travellers in the current landscape.
Indonesia Follows Suit
Indonesia is also looking to attract Indian tourists by reinstating its visa-free program. Ni Made Ayu Marthini, Deputy Minister of Marketing at Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism, revealed plans to resume visa exemptions for several countries, with India being a top priority.
“India is our second-largest source market for Bali and holds the sixth position overall,” Marthini stated, highlighting the importance of Indian tourists for the Indonesian economy.
OTM Reflects Global Focus on Travel Facilitation
The 3-day OTM event, with over 1,600 exhibitors from 60 countries, served as a platform for discussions on facilitating travel and tourism in the post-pandemic world. The focus on ease of access for key markets like India signifies a global trend towards reviving travel industries.
So, pack your bags, Indian travellers! Sri Lanka awaits with open arms and visa-free entry, promising a delightful blend of cultural immersion, breathtaking landscapes, and unforgettable experiences.