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Sri Lanka to grant visa free entry to boost tourism

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A group of tourists leave the Sigiriya rock fortress site in Dambulla, Sri Lanka on August 19, 2017. The country is planning to grant visa free entry to visitors from certain tourist friendly nations. Reuters

COLOMBO (Xinhua) – Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed a task force to study the possibility of granting visa free entry to visitors from certain tourist friendly nations in order to boost arrivals to the island country.

Sri Lankan Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said that some of the countries under consideration are India, China, and some European and West Asian countries.

Mr Amaratunga said this proposal was aimed at encouraging more people to visit Sri Lanka and avoid the “chaos” at the immigration.

Following recommendations from the Task Force, this proposal may be implemented in the off peak months of October to November and March to April, the minister said.

He further said the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) is currently working on this plan.

Additionally, in order to boost arrivals, the minister said the government was also in discussion with airlines, tour operators and hotels to provide low cost packages during the off peak months.

“ These efforts are underway to ensure Sri Lanka becomes a destination that would be a visited location throughout the year,” Mr Amaratunga said.

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, which was once heavily scarred by a 30-year civil conflict, has become one of the leading industries of the country.

Tourist arrivals have recorded a growth of 15.3 percent during the first half of 2018 compared with the same period last year, recent statistics from the Tourism Ministry showed.

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