• Stresses initiative was useful particularly after Easter Sunday setback

  • Prefers it to be continued all through 2020 till business is absolutely recovered

  • Claims estimated Rs. four b income loss for Immigration Dept. is insignificant at zero.5% in comparison with Rs. 790 b earnings of tourism

  • Business to make representations to Tourism and Aviation Minister Prasanna Ranatunga after they meet in first week of January

By Charumini de Silva

The tourism business is urging the continuation of the fee-free visa regime, because it has been useful for the post-Easter Sunday setback and key for a extra full restoration, while any lack of income to Authorities is insignificant contemplating the web $ four.four billion it brings in as international trade earnings.  

The attraction by the personal sector reportedly follows lobbying by the Immigration and Emigration Division for the suspension of the fee-free visa scheme for almost 50 nations since August 2019. While the higher-ups in Sri Lanka Tourism weren’t conscious of any official transfer, involved business leaders pressured the scheme have to be continued.

“The waiver of visa charges is an encouragement and we choose it to be continued for an additional yr till the tourism business is absolutely recovered,” The Motels Affiliation of Sri Lanka President Sanath Ukwatte informed Day by day FT. 

He identified that the scheme was helpful particularly when households journey to Sri Lanka, and that globally visa-free preparations had helped many vacationer locations.

Colombo Metropolis Motels Affiliation President M. Shanthikumar too insisted that the fee-free visa scheme have to be continued till the tip of 2020 as a part of full restoration part for the tourism business. He mentioned the scheme was useful to maintain vacationers arriving particularly from regional markets.

Shanthikumar mentioned the business would foyer for the scheme’s continuity after they meet Tourism and Aviation Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, who additionally holds the Industrial Exports and Funding Promotions portfolios, within the first week of January.

Business analysts have identified the existence of the free visa coverage was one of many primary causes for the decline in arrivals after the Easter assaults to solely be restricted to 20% and never greater. In addition they highlighted the failure by the earlier administration to launch an pressing PR and advertising marketing campaign instantly after the fear assaults to tug numbers again up. Proper after the tragedy, vacationer arrivals fell by as a lot as 70%.

In addition they opined that the Immigration Division’s assertion of a Rs. four billion loss in income because of the scheme thus far this yr was insignificant because it amounted to mere zero.5% of the Rs. 790 billion or $ four.four billion earned through tourism yearly.  

When it comes to issues over safety, business sources mentioned what had been waived off was solely the charge and any customer was nonetheless required to use for visa prematurely. In that context, background checks are nonetheless potential if wanted. Sri Lanka gives visa-free arrivals just for Singaporeans on a reciprocal foundation.

In October, Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airways, the world’s largest airline that was a one-time supervisor and part-owner of SriLankan Airways, described the fee-free visa scheme as a “constructive and welcome step in the proper course” as visa restrictions are a psychological hurdle for many individuals in relation to making journey selections. “It’s a problem we might all do with out,” he added. 

Nonetheless, Clark went on to induce Sri Lanka to be extra revolutionary and daring as the prevailing scheme wasn’t a ground-breaking transfer or a standout initiative within the world tourism market, as guests nonetheless wanted to replenish on-line varieties or make time to acquire their visas, whether or not on arrival or forward of time. Vacationers from 100+ different nations world wide would nonetheless want ETAs or visas prematurely to enter Sri Lanka.

“What if… we might abandon reciprocity rules, and throw open Sri Lanka’s doorways in order that it turns into ‘essentially the most welcoming nation’ on the planet? What if… we might put off any form of form-filling altogether for travellers already on the visa-free program, and as an alternative use revolutionary methods to handle the safety assurances – for example by means of biometric expertise on the airport?” requested Clark throughout his well-received speech at The Motels Affiliation (THASL) Annual Basic Assembly.

“Decreasing or eradicating visa boundaries to draw guests is nice. However within the face of stiff competitors from different world locations, I believe there’s a case to have a look at daring and revolutionary methods to draw repeat visits and command an even bigger share of pockets from international guests, particularly these of sure monetary means and life-style demographics,” the Emirates Airways President added.

In his speech, Clark additionally recounted his personal expertise of visa charges. “I paid a small charge for the enterprise vacationer visa. My spouse who accompanied me on this journey didn’t must pay for her entry visa, as she’s right here purely on a leisure go to. Two of us, two visa necessities and two totally different processing routes. Why not simply put off the entire rigmarole?” Clark informed the THASL AGM.


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