Weeks after the new government in Sri Lanka was installed, the tourism ministry has finalised the plan to hold several roadshows in India, its largest source market. After a cabinet meeting, the tourism ministry of Sri Lanka has announced that the government has approved a host of measures to issue longer-duration visas.
According to a press statement, it has been decided to increase the duration of tourist visas for up to 180 days for those who apply via Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), whilst allowing single entry visa travellers can stay up to 270 days. The government has also increased the duration of the multiple entry visas from current 90 days to one year.
“Upon discussing the Cabinet proposal submitted by Tourism Minister Harin Fernando on the suitability of issuing visas at once for a longer period, President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Defence Minister presented a fresh Cabinet paper which was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers,” says the press release.
In a separate development, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) has confirmed that the long-awaited tourism roadshows in India, the largest source market, will kick off next month.
“We are looking at promotions in India, which continues to be the largest tourist market for Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Tourism is planning to go ahead with promotions in key three cities, tentatively around the third week of September,” says Chalaka Gajabahu, SLTPB Chairman.
Gajabahu adds that the three cities include Mumbai, Delhi, and Hyderabad, which will be promoted by the newly appointed brand ambassador, Sri Lanka’s iconic cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya.
The press release further states that as per the Tourism Ministry, the appointment of Jayasuriya has been made in view of presenting a programme to attract tourists from around the world, as he has been a flag bearer of the island country’s reputation for many years along with worldwide fan following and undisputed recognition.
In June, Tourism Minister Fernando had revealed that three road shows are planned for India, as an immediate promotion, whilst the ministry hoped to roll out a marketing campaign in risk-averse markets such as India, the Middle East, Russia, and CIS countries soon.
The same month, Sri Lanka Tourism kicked off the ‘Sri Lanka Can’ campaign, to boost arrivals, with the support from Bollywood actors Chitrangada Singh and Dino Morea to promote Sri Lanka. Fernando said Sri Lanka was optimistic about receiving one million travellers by the end of the year, whilst capitalising on new markets as well as India.
In a positive sign, in the first 11 days of August, Sri Lanka welcomed over 16,000 tourists, a slight uptick in arrivals compared to the previous three months.
According to the provisional data by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), a total of 16,643 visitors have arrived during the first 11-days of the month, pushing the cumulative figure since January 1 to 475,313.
India continues to stand strong as the top tourist source market for Sri Lanka with the cumulative number of arrivals at 76,581 year-to-date, followed by the UK with 62,421, Russia with 49,006, Germany with 38,573, and France 27,082.
However for the 11 days of August, UK has topped the tourist traffic to Sri Lanka with 21 pc or 3,542 followed by India with 11 pc or 1,789 visitors, and France with 10 pc or 1,631 travellers. The data also showed that daily average arrivals have improved marginally to 1,513 from 1,503 for the entirety of July, 1,095 in June, and 974 in May – extending some hope to the triple-hit industry since 2019.