Sri Lanka Halts Visa On Arrival Facilitation Program After Easter Bombings

media_gallery-2019-04-26-9-1_92d5dcb0eecff6d8fbe8ff84cc2ac157.jpgImage Source: picserver.org

The Sri Lankan Ministry of Tourism announced on Thursday that its visa on arrival facilitation program for citizens of 39 countries has been postponed in the wake of the recent Easter bombings in the country. The blasts killed about 360 people and over 100 suspects have already been arrested.

John Anthony Emmanuel Amaratunga, Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs, tweeted, “Visa on arrival pilot programme set for May 1st launch for 39 countries put on hold due to the current security situation.” In an official statement, he announced, “Although arrangements were in place to issue a visa 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.” He added, "Investigations have revealed foreign links to the attacks and we don't want this facility to be abused.” 

Sri Lanka had earlier this year announced its initiative of visas on arrival pilot programme under which the country eased the visa policy for citizens of 39 countries to promote tourism during the off-season between the months of May and October. The program, which was suspended after the blasts, was to start on the 1st of May. 

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan government had imposed a ban on the use of social media to prevent violence and stop the spread of misinformation. The move has received a lot of flak for the government on social media as it continues to hunt down suspects in the case. 

The country is in a state of mourning as three hotels and three churches were attacked taking the lives of 350 people which included 39 foreigners. While the criminal investigation for the same is under process, the tourism industry of Sri Lanka is likely to be severely affected due to the devastating blasts.

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