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Sri Lanka suspends visa-on-arrival programme following attacks

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The visa-on-arrival regime was expected to be implemented from May 1 for tourists from more than 30 countries.

However, following the string of explosions on Easter Sunday which left 359 people dead and more than 500 others injured, the government decided to put the programme on hold until further notice.

“Investigations have revealed foreign links to the attacks and we do not want this facility to be abused,” Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs, John Amaratunga said.

The pilot programme was part of a larger initiative to increase tourist arrivals to the island country during the six-month off-season period from May to October.

Tourism was one of the worst hit industries following the deadly blasts in churches and star class hotels in or around Colombo on Sunday.

Police have arrested another 16 people in connection to a series of bombings in Sri Lanka over Easter weekend which claimed at least 359 lives, officials said on Thursday.

The latest arrests brought the number of suspects in detention up to 76.

Vehicles used by the suspects have also been seized in the operations.

Tight security was maintained around hotels, places of worship and government buildings with authorities carrying out random checks on cars and passenger buses.

On Wednesday, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena directed two top officials to step down amid allegations they failed to share intelligence reports with him about possible suicide attacks which were available to officials earlier in March.

Sirisena claimed that Defence Secretary, Hemasiri Fernando and Inspector-General of Police, Pujith Jayasundara also failed to inform Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe and his cabinet.

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