Visa-related fee will be nominal, Sri Lanka assures India

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Sri Lanka will reduce its tourist-visa-related administrative fee for visitors from January 1. Earlier, it announced a tourist visa fee of $ 50, payable online ahead of commencement of journey for visitors from 78 countries, including India.

Till now, Sri Lanka had a no-charge, visa-on-arrival system for foreign tourists. From January 1, all travellers, barring those from the Maldives and Singapore, will have to fill up an online ‘electronic travel authorisation,' pay a fee, and get approval ahead of travel. The Maldives and Singapore extend visa-on-arrival to Sri Lankan citizens and hence, Sri Lanka has decided that the arrangement would continue for citizens of these countries.

Controller General of Immigration Chulananda Perera said the government was considering reduction of fee for tourists from the SAARC countries. This followed requests from some countries, including India. The exact fee would be decided after a series of discussions within the government.

India does not extend the visa-on-arrival system to Sri Lankans but a single-entry tourist visa, valid for three months, costs about $6.5 [about LKR 650 in all, including administrative and VFS charges. The visa fee per se is LKR 390]. Many countries resort to bilateral arrangements when it comes to issuing of visas, and also with visa fees. In discussions with Indian officials, the Sri Lankan side had assured them that the fee would be ‘nominal.'

On the contention that the electronic travel authorisation was not user-friendly, Mr. Perera said this was being used by many travellers coming into Sri Lanka, though the date fixed was January 1.

“Last week, we approved over 500 applications after scrutiny,” he told The Hindu. There could be problems if anyone tried to pay the fee now. This was because the payment gateway was yet to be opened and this would be done only later this year.

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