Sri Lanka suspends visa-free policy for Thailand and 38 other nations after bombing

In the wake of the recent Easter bombing which shocked the country and killed more than 300 people, the Sri Lankan government has suspended its visa on arrival policy for citizens of 39 countries, including Thai citizens.

Sri Lankan Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs, John Amaratunga said “Although arrangements were in place to issue visas on arrival for citizens of 39 countries, we have now decided to hold it for the time being in consideration of the current security situation.”

“Investigations have revealed foreign links to the attacks and we don’t want this facility to be abused,” he added.

Last month, Sri Lanka had announced a plan to allow visa-free entry to tourists from 39 counries, including Thailand and EU members, Australia and the United States during the low season from 1st May. The scheme did not China and India despite most of its visitors coming from.

The devastating Easter Sunday suicide bombings against churches and hotels killed 359 people, including dozens of foreigners. The blasts have rocked the country’s burgeoning tourism industry, which is one of the most important foreign exchange earners for the island.

Sri Lanka received 740,600 foreign tourists in the first three months of the year, up 4.6 percent from the same period a year earlier. It welcomed a record 2.33 million tourists in 2018, and was named the world’s top travel destination for 2019 by the Lonely Planet guide book.

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