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Sri Lanka launches online visa approval system


Colombo : Sri Lanka Friday launched an online visa approval system for people on a short stay, Xinhua reported.

The system, Electronic Travel Authorization ETA, will come into effect from Jan 1, 2011, and the on arrival visa system would be scrapped thereafter.

Foreigners who visit the country for business purposes, conferences, seminars, training, holiday making, medical treatments, sports, competition and cultural activities are to get approval within 24 hours of applying online.

The Immigration and Emigration Department said Maldives and Singapore would continue to be exempted from visas as Sri Lankans enjoy the same facilities in those countries.

The applicant for tourist visa with double entry for 30 days has to pay $50, while $60 for business visa with multiple entry for 30 days and $25 for transit visa with single entry for seven days.

With the end of the 30-year civil war in May 2009, almost all foreign countries have lifted travel ban to Sri Lanka.

Tourist arrivals in the first eight months of 2011 rose by 35.2 percent to 537,787, compared to the corresponding period last year. The government has set a target of 2.5 million tourists by 2016.