Sri Lanka to End Free Visas for Russians, Ukrainians

Sri Lanka to End Free Visas for Russians, Ukrainians
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The Facts

  • Sri Lankan Public Security Minister Tiran Alles told Reuters on Thursday that Russian and Ukrainian visitors who have entered the Indian Ocean country over the past two years under its free long-term stay visa scheme will have to pay $50 for 30-day visas to remain in Sri Lanka.

  • Though the complimentary visa extensions for these tourists ended last Friday, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority implemented a 14-day grace period until March 7 for individuals to either return home or formally extend their visas.

The Spin

Anti-Russia narrative

The vast majority of these visa holders are from Russia, so this is really a Russian problem. Since Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of Russians have entered Sri Lanka as tourists and set up illegal and even racist businesses in the country, abusing its generous visa program. Sri Lanka is rightfully asserting its sovereign right to control its own tourism industry.

Pro-Russia narrative

Russian tourists have been an economic godsend for Sri Lanka since the end of the country's devastating 30-year war in 2009, including after the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, providing a major boost to the crisis-hit economy. Sri Lanka understands the importance of Russia to its tourism industry, which is why it should remain neutral in this war and continue to welcome Russian tourists into its borders.

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