Indian tourists, business people and transit passengers will have to apply for travel authorisation ahead of heading for Sri Lanka, in a few months from now. Indians constitute the biggest chunk of tourists into the country.

On Wednesday, Sri Lanka’s Immigration and Emigration department announced that an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) system that will replace the simple visa-on-arrival facility for travellers from 78 countries. The visa-on-arrival will continue for people travelling from The Maldives and Singapore — two countries that reciprocate the facility for Sri Lankans travelling to these countries.

The ETA is a web-based system that grants a person permission to travel to Sri Lanka. “It is not a visa in itself, but an approval for travel,” explained the Immigration and Emigration Controller Chulananda Perera. The visa will be stamped on the passport in arrival here; but the passenger will have to log in ahead, and have the authorisation.

It will cost the passenger US $50 (for a tourist visa with double entry for 30 days), US $60 (business visa with multiple entry for 30 days) or US $ 25 (for transit visa with single entry for seven days). The fee has to be paid online. “The ETA will be approved in minutes. In some cases it could take longer. But no application will take longer than 24 hours,” said R.M.S. Sarath Kumar, Controller (Visa).

Mr. Perera explained that the ETA had several advantages for both the visitor and the Immigration department. It had to be adopted to identify people ahead of their arrival in Sri Lanka, keeping in mind the current global situation, he added.

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