Govt to extend deadline to April 30 | Daily News
Free visas to 48 countries

Govt to extend deadline to April 30

The Government will extend the deadline for free visas issued to 48 countries which was to lapse on January 31, 2000 to April 30, 2000.

The issue of free visas which was provided to 48 countries which was given to 48 countries in the immediate aftermath of the Easter Sunday terrorist attack on April 21 , 2019 will be extended to April 30, a Senior spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation told Daily News Finance yesterday.

He also said that Minister of Industrial Exports, Tourism and Aviation Prasanna Ranatunga was expected to present a Cabinet Memorandum next week in this direction. He said that despite the free visas, the arrivalsin May 2019, was a mere 37,802 from all countries in May 2019.

Chairperson of Sri Lanka Tourism Kimarli Fernando, when contacted by Daily News Finance for comment, said that she and the authorities, have not been briefed by the Government as of yet on this all important decision.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka Sanath Ukwatte said that he has not met the Minister and the Ministry officials yet, but added that the industry would ideally request the Minister and the Government for an extension of the free visa system by a another one year , till April 2020.

“We would be requesting the Government to extend the free visas for another year till at least we reach the 2018 arrival levels of 2.4 million. Responding to a question as to his reaction was about news reports, quoting officials of the Department of Immigration and Immigration claiming that the Department was losing around Rs. 4 billion over the free visas, THASL Chief Ukwatte said that the industry had absolutely no objections to the Government levying a fee for visas, but added that it was also important for the industry to pick up claiming the industry had reduced tariffs by 30%- 50%.

Statistics relating to arrivals have shown that in 2019 January , arrivals have risen 2.2% to 244,239 from 238,924 in 2018, February 2019 to 252,033, a 7% increase from 235,618, March 2019, to 244,328, a 4.7% increase from 233,382 in 2018. However, it was from April 2019 that saw the slide in the immediate aftermath of the Easter Sunday Carnage on April 21, that saw the dip from of arrivals from 180,429 in 2018 to 166,975 in 2019, a 7.5% dip between the two years.

May 2019 reported a record 70.8 % dip from 129,466 in 2018 to 37,802 in 2019, June 2019, from 146,828 to 63,072, a 57% dip, July 2019, from 217,829 to 115,701 a 46.9 dip between the two years

August saw the slide from 200,359 in 2018 to 143,587 in 2019, a 28.3% reduction between the two years and September reduced from 149,087 in 2018 to 108,575 in 2019 a 27.2 dip between the two years. October saw the reduction by 22.5% from 153,123 in 2018 to118,743 in 2019. The November dip was 9.5% from 195,582 in 2018 to 176,984 in 2019.

The total arrivals for 2018 were 2,333,796 and 2019, up to November, was2,080,62,a 19.6% dip between the two years.

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