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Free tourist visas will be issued to tourists in Sri Lanka in an effort to boost tourism following terrorist attacks

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The Sri Lankan government will issue free tourist visas to visitors to Sri Lanka upon arrival, in an effort to boost tourism in the country. It is hoped that tourism will increase again following the detrimental effects of terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday earlier this year.

Free tourist visas will be issued upon arrival to citizens from 48 countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, and members of the European Union. Before this, the visa fee was $35 for tourism and $40 for business.

Image credit: Daniel Klein on Unsplash

On Easter Sunday, the 21st April 2019, terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka killed 263 people and injured over 500 at churches and hotels in the commercial capital of Colombo.

Following the attacks, tourism in Sri Lanka has plummeted. In July 2018, there were 217,829 international tourist arrivals - a staggering number compared to the 63,072 in June 2019.

However, the data also reports an increase between June and July, with 115,701 international tourists arriving during the latter month. Whilst promising, they still chart a 47% decrease in numbers from the previous year.

An official from the Tourism Development Ministry informed Reuters that the free visa offer "will remain for six months and the government will assess the loss of revenue from visas after six months”.

It is hoped that these measures will continue to revive tourism in Sri Lanka, as the country had been on its way to becoming one of the world's most popular tourist destinations before the attacks occurred. Sri Lanka was named the top country to visit in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2019, a promising recovery from the civil war that broke out in 1983.

The country is determined to recover once again and, in addition to free visas, the government has also reduced airlines fees until the end of the year and asked travel agencies to cut commissions.

Lead image credit: Daniel Klein on Unsplash




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