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21 Indian nationals detained for illegally operating business on tourist visa in Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka, Indians arrested, tourist visa
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Colombo: At least 21 Indian nationals were detained by Sri Lankan authorities for illegally operating a computer-operated business in the country, in violation of the relaxed tourist visa norms, according to officials on Wednesday. The Indian men are in the age group of 24 to 25, and were detained by the Department of Immigration and Emigration on Tuesday.

After a preliminary inquiry, the department raided a rented house in the popular western coast resort town of Negombo, where those arrested were found operating a computer-operated business. “They had rented a house and were involved in some computer-operated business”, said a senior official said, adding that the nature of their business was yet to be identified.

“We have served removal notices on them and moved them to the Welisara detention centre. They will be deported once the investigations are over,” the official added. Under Sri Lanka’s law, those who visit the island nation on tourist visas are prohibited from engaging in any paid or unpaid work.

The Indian nationals had used the free-of-charge visa condition that Sri Lanka has granted to a set of countries till March 31 as part of an ongoing pilot project to promote tourism in the cash-strapped country, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported. They had arrived in Sri Lanka in February and March on tourist visas. India is generally Sri Lanka’s biggest inbound tourism market.

Meanwhile, the immigration authorities say they have received many complaints about Russian and Ukrainian tourists doing business in the island nation while on tourist visas. In February, with over 30,000 arrivals, India was placed second to the arrivals from the Russian Federation at over 32,000.

Sri Lanka now has a free visa regime for tourists from India, China, Indonesia, Russia, Thailand, Malaysia and Japan. As per the Sri Lankan media reports, the latest decision has been taken in order to give a boost to the tourism industry. ” We are expecting to increase tourist arrivals to five million over the coming years,” the ministry said as quoted by the Sri Lankan media. 

Notably, Sri Lanka, an island nation, is majorly dependent on the tourism sector. The industry is considered a significant contributor to the country’s GDP.  However, it has been ruined by back-to-back tragedies that occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic and then bad implementation of agricultural reforms. In fact, this led the country to plunge into a major economic crisis, prompting a shortage of essential items like food, medicine and cooking gas among others.


(with inputs from PTI)

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