Sri Lanka’s free visa on arrival put on hold


Here is bad news if you were planning a quick getaway to Sri Lanka in the coming months. Sri Lanka has put its free visa on arrival scheme on hold following the recent Easter Sunday serial bombings that have wholly shaken the beautiful island country and taken 253 lives until now. Sri Lanka, hope you guys are back up and running asap. Our prayers are with you.

While Sri Lanka had announced the free visa on arrival scheme was announced for citizens from 38 countries apart from India to boost their tourism during their offseason, we understand that security takes precedence, especially given the warnings of more such attacks in the coming days.

Our Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a travel advisory asking Indian nationals not to undertake non-essential travel to Sri Lanka. Here is the relevant text for your perusal.

“Advisory for Indian Nationals travelling to Sri Lanka
April 27, 2019

In view of the prevailing security situation in Sri Lanka in the aftermath of terror attacks on 21 April 2019, Indian nationals intending to travel to Sri Lanka are advised not to undertake non-essential travel.

In case of those undertaking essential/emergency travels, they can contact the High Commission of India in Colombo or the Assistant High Commission in Kandy / Consulates in Hambantota and Jaffna in case of requirement of any assistance. The helpline numbers of the Indian High Commission are available on the Mission’s website.

The Government of Sri Lanka has beefed up the security in the country. A nation-wide emergency including night time curfew is in place at present which may also affect travel within Sri Lanka.”

On the other hand, the Sri Lankan Tourism Board says that the country is open to business and tourism, and travellers will not face any trouble. Here’s an excerpt from their website.

“What do I do if I have already booked a tour to Sri Lanka?

We encourage you to continue with your travel plans to Sri Lanka, all facilities are fully operational and optimum security is in place to ensure for your safety. If you would like to make changes to your itinerary, please speak to your hotel representative and airline for the postponement of your travel dates. All local transport, establishments, and hotels are fully operational. If you want to make a cancellation, check your Hotel and Airlines’ altered cancellation policy in lieu of the current situation.”

If you must travel (while we’d definitely like you err on the side of caution) to Sri Lanka now, you will have to apply for an e-visa, which in their case is called the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA). The Sri Lankan e-visa or ETA costs Rs. 4,500 and you’ll receive it within 24 hours, and is valid up to 30 days.

You can, however, take advantage of Thailand’s free visa on arrival scheme for Indians, which they have extended until October 2019.


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