Colombo, July 24 – Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers has approved a proposal from the Sri Lanka Tourism Ministry to include China and India in its free visa policy which will be launched from Aug. 1, Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs, John Amaratunga said Tuesday.
Addressing a media briefing held at the conclusion of a tour by visiting Chinese journalists to Sri Lanka, Amaratunga said China was the second largest market for Sri Lanka tourism and the free visa policy for the Chinese market would boost Chinese tourist arrivals, the Xinhua news agency reported.
“We are aware that China is one of our main markets. Despite the set back from the Easter Sunday attacks, I am sure this year we will be able to achieve our targets. From August 1, Chinese tourists can come to Sri Lanka without a visa fee and we see this as a landmark decision for the tourism industry,” Amaratunga said.
Some of the other countries entitled for the free visa policy are USA, Netherlands and certain European countries.
“We are very keen to improve our tourist arrivals from China. The government has taken timely action to improve the industry after the Easter attacks and we have conveyed this to the Chinese leaders,” Charmarie Maelge, Managing Director of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) said.
According to official statistics from SLTPB, currently 4,000 tourists from across the world arrive in Sri Lanka daily following the suicide attacks.
Last year over 280,000 tourists from China visited Sri Lanka.