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Visitors from India, 6 countries to get free tourist visas in Sri Lanka

Colombo: TheSriLankanCabinethasapprovedthe policy to issuefreetouristvisasto travellersfromIndiaandsixothercountries, Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said on Tuesday, amidst efforts to rebuild the debt-trapped island nation’s tourism sector.

Foreign Minister Sabry in a statement said that this would be carried out as a pilot project effective until March 31, 2024.

TheCabinetapprovedfreeentry to travellersfromIndia, China, Russia, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia,andThailand with immediate effect.

Touristsfromthesecountrieswill be able to obtainvisaswhen visitingSriLanka, without a fee.

Indiais traditionallySriLanka’s top inbound tourism market.

In the September arrival figures,Indiatopped with over 30,000 arrivals or 26 per cent with Chinesetouriststrailing at over 8,000 arrivals as the second largest group.Touristarrivals to the island had slumped since the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings that left 270 persons, including 11 Indians, deadandover 500 injured.

SriLanka, which has been grappling with unprecedented economic turmoil since its independencefromBritain in 1948, is also facing political unrest with protesters demanding President Rajapaksa’s resignation.

The economic crisis has prompted an acute shortage of essential items like food, medicine, cooking gasandotherfuel, toilet paperandeven matches, withSriLankansformonths being forced to wait in lines lasting hours outside stores to buy fuelandcooking gas.

(Published 24 October 2023, 07:34 IST)

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