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POSTED AT 09:43 AM 06-04-2019

JVP questions free visa on arrival facility for tourists

Image Courtesy: JVP Sri Lanka

MP Bimal Rathnayake

- Voices concern about increased reports of foreigners in illegal activities 
- Warns state would lose millions by granting free visas
- Questions if evaluation carried out before putting new rule in place

The JVP lawmaker on Thursday questioned the Government decision to grant free visas valid for up to six months to tourists from select countries amidst reports of an increase indrug trafficking, bio-piracy, and financial frauds along with other criminal activities by foreign nationals.

The Government announced recently that the free visa facility will apply to nationals of Thailand, the UK, Australia, South Korea, Canada, the US, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand and EU passport holders. The move is aimed at increasing tourist arrivals in the country. 

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) MP Bimal Rathnayake taking part in the Committee Stage Program of Budget 2019 demanded an explanation from the Government on what grounds it has decided to commence issuing the six months free visa. The new system will become effective from this month. 

“A tourist has to pay $ 30 to obtain a visit visa to Sri Lanka. The decision to issue free visas to selected countries will lead to the loss of millions of foreign currency. I wonder why these tourists are unable to pay $30 to obtain a visa to enter Sri Lanka. It is questionable what these tourists are willing to spend here in Sri Lanka after entering with free visa,” he said. The JVP lawmakers questioned if the Government has any plan to recover the loss incurred from issuing the free visa. “Did the Government carry out an evaluation to measure the income we can gain after this decision? Otherwise, we will lose the income we gain at the moment from tourism,” he added. (AH)