Calling all Sri Lanka-bound Indians! The Sri Lankan government has made travelling to the island nation hassle-free with their new free visa-on-arrival for Indians! By Bayar Jain

Starting August 1, Indians travelling to Sri Lanka will be spared from the hassle of applying for a visa before venturing to this tropical beauty. In a bit to revive tourism after the Easter Day bombings, the Sri Lankan government has announced free visa-on-arrival for Indian and Chinese tourists. Tourists from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, England, Norway, Russia, and Philippines can also rejoice as this facility extends to them, as well. It is already in force for tourists from Thailand, the European Union, the UK, the US, Japan, Australia, Switzerland, and Cambodia.

The scheme was originally intended to come into force May 1 onwards, however the Easter Day bombings put a stop to it. Security was amped up, and the country seeped into a state of emergency with immediate effect. However, as months have passed, the government hopes to bring the nation back on its feet. The visa-on-arrival pilot programme is a part of the larger initiative to bring tourists back to the nation during this relatively low tourism period. Indians, in particular, contribute to over 18% of all the tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka. In 2018 alone, around 450,000 Indians visited the country. This number is expected to cross the one million mark in 2019.

Currently, Indians have to pay close to INR 2,400 as the visa fee. Although specific documentation related information for the free visa-on-arrival for Indians has not been revealed yet, a general Sri Lankan tourist e-visa application requires the passport holder to submit a digital photo along with proof of round-trip ticket. Additionally, it even requires a proof of funds to cover the expenses during the stay. This tourist visa is valid for a maximum duration of 30 days.

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