Travel operators to challenge new Sri Lanka tourist tax?


Travel operators to challenge new Sri Lanka tourist tax?PA


Travel operators could challenge Sri Lanka's decision to charge a £30 tourist charge for all visitors from 1 January, 2012.

Currently, there is a free visa-on-arrival, but the new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), will charge £30 per person for entry, and will have to be bought online.

Travel agents are concerned this will affect the number of British people hlidaying in Sri Lanka, who not only have to worry about huge Air Passenger Duty rises next year, but would also face paying an extra £120 for a family of four to get there.

Sri Lanka marketing manager Nabeel Shariff said the new system is important for 'tracking incoming tourists', adding: 'We were concerned, but the system is for every market, and not every market is in the same situation as the UK. It is still less than you pay for India or China. It is difficult from a UK perspective but we didn't want to discriminate between countries.'

The ETA does not require any passport copies or photographs, and is valid for three months from the date of issue. Shariff said that agents will need to contact customers already booked in for 2012 Sri Lanka holidays to advise them to pay the fee online.

But Lucy Nicholl, Explore's operations manager for Asia, told Travel Weekly: 'Sri Lankan tour operators have yet to be officially informed about the change to Sri Lanka's visa process although the new system is currently being tested.

'The Sri Lankan government has conceded to tour operator opposition to this change in the past and the move is also likely to be challenged on this occasion.'


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