Anyone wanting to make the most of Sri Lanka’s easy entry system should do so quickly -- from 1 January, 2012, the country is set to charge all visitors a fee of $50 (£30) to enter the country.
Previously, tourists were able to apply for a free visa on arrival, a process backed by most tour operators who predicted that visitor numbers would drop by 30-40% should a fee be charged.
The new rules will apply to 76 countries -- only Singapore and the Maldives will be exempt -- and will require travellers to apply for a visa online. This will provide a 30-day double-entry tourist visa, valid for use within three months of the date of issue.
Opinion is divided about whether this system will work for Sri Lanka, but Rumy Jauffer, managing director of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, says: “A processing fee to get a visa is already in operation in many other countries including Europe and the American continent. So that's not going to be a major problem at all. Welcome to Sri Lanka”.
If you’re planning a holiday to Sri Lanka (before or after the point when you’ll have to pay), click here.