India’s High Commissioner in Colombo Ashok K. Kantha said that Sri Lanka and India must work towards a visa-free regime since a two-way flow of tourists reinforces friendly ties between the two countries, ignoring protests held in South Indian Tamil state
He said India’s policy has been to facilitate Sri Lankan travelers to India with a liberal visa regime for all types of travelers – pilgrims, tourists and the business community with almost everyone being issued visas within one working day.
“We are progressively moving towards a visa on arrival regime with some countries,” he said adding that Sri Lanka is one of them. “But that’s an objective we need to move towards. Especially, between two friendly countries such as India and Sri Lanka, we should have a very smooth movement of people, goods, ideas and investment. This is something we need to encourage,” he said.
He said Sri Lanka should also be more ambitious in tapping the Indian tourist sector.Nearly one-fifth of foreign tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka are from India. Kantha said the number of tourists from India to Sri Lanka at present is a small fraction of the actual figure.
“If more than one million Indians can travel to Singapore and Thailand every year, I don’t see why the number of Indian tourists visiting Sri Lanka should be less than 200,000, since Sri Lanka has so much to offer as a tourist destination.