Sri Lanka and India mull visa on arrival
Sri Lanka and India have agreed to a bilateral consular dialogue to
discuss the visa on arrival that would lead to a visa-free regime
between the two countries.
India’s High Commissioner in Colombo Ashok K. Kantha said that Sri
Lanka and India must work towards a visa-free regime since a two-way
flow of tourists reinforces friendly ties between the two countries.
He said India’s policy has been to facilitate Sri Lankan travellers
to India with a liberal visa regime for all types of travellers –
pilgrims, tourists and the business community with almost everyone being
issued visas within one working day.
“We are progressively moving towards a visa on arrival regime with
some countries,” he said adding that Sri Lanka is one of them. Asked if
the visa free travel between the two countries would be a reality, he
said that it is definitely within the realm of possibility and this is
something we need to encourage.” He said the Government will work out
the modalities of the arrangement.
“But that’s an objective we need to move towards. Especially, between
two friendly countries such as India and Sri Lanka, we should have a
very smooth movement of people, goods, ideas and investment. This is
something we need to encourage,” he said.
He said Sri Lanka should also be more ambitious in tapping the Indian
“Indians are travelling overseas in larger numbers.”
Nearly one-fifth of foreign tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka are from
India. Kantha said the number of tourists from India to Sri Lanka at
present is a small fraction of the actual figure.
“If more than one million Indians can travel to Singapore and
Thailand every year, I don’t see why the number of Indian tourists
visiting Sri Lanka should be less than 200,000, since Sri Lanka has so
much to offer as a tourist destination.