Sri Lanka to scrap visa on arrival

December 31, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka has revived plans to scrap the visa on arrival for foreigners, except Maldivians and and Singaporeans, and will launch an on-line visa application system, officials said Friday. The local tourism industry has been buoyed by a near 50 percent increase in foreign visitors since fighting ended in May last year. Sri Lanka hopes to attract over 700,000 tourists in the New Year. The government was to discontinue granting landing permits from October 1, but the scheme was put on hold following objections from the tourism industry. However, the authorities will now implement the system soon, officials said.

An immigration department source said the tourism industry had argued that foreign holidaymakers would be discouraged from visiting if they have to go to a Sri Lankan embassy for a visa before travelling.

The Sri Lankan president’s office in a statement said Friday that the authorities will soon launch an on-line application system for foreign nationals to get their visas through the Internet.

“The President instructed officials to quickly introduce a simple system of obtaining visas through the use of the Internet,” the statement said. It did not elaborate.