Sri Lanka to test new visa scheme for three months

Jan 03, 2011 (LBO) – A new online visa scheme Sri Lanka plans to introduce, replacing existing on-arrival visas, will be tested for three months before the government decides to implement it, an official said. Sri Lanka received more than 600,000 tourists in 2010 and aims to attract 700,000 this year. Nalaka Godahewa, chairman of the tourism authority, said the online visa scheme where visitors can apply for and get visas through the internet will be tested as a pilot project from the end of January.

No fee will be charged during the online test phase during which the existing visa on arrival scheme will be continued.

“We will test the online visa scheme for three months and, depending on its success, then go ahead with the new scheme,” he told Vimasuma.com, our sister news website.

“We will not change the way we issue visas to foreigners all of a sudden. By the end of this month we will start the online visa scheme while continuing with the existing scheme. No fee will be charged during the three-month pilot project. But once the new scheme is officially adopted we will charge a modest visa fee.”

Sri Lanka’s tourist industry has raised alarm over the new scheme fearing it could deter vis