Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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Govt to crack down on foreigners with tourist visas doing business in Sri Lanka.

By: Staff Writer

April 04, Colombo (LNW): The government will soon crack down on foreigners doing business in Sri Lanka using their tourist visas with the help of local undercover organizations with political patronage, official sources said.

Several foreign nationals including Russians, Ukrainians, Italaians, Chinese, Indian and Israelis who were in Sri Lanka under tourist visas were operating businesses in tourist hotspots which had severely hampered the local tourist industry.

Several foreign nationals mainly Russians and Ukrainians who have been in the country long term due to conflicts in their own countries are now running cafes, restaurants, bars to exchange money and running undial services and providing accommodation and transport.

They were, using loopholes in the country’s emigration and immigration regulations, taken the law for granted with the support of a tourism promotion organization headed by former. Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Russia Udayanga Weeratunge, several tourist agency operators alleged.

Public Security Minister Tiran Alles said that Russians and Ukrainians who have been in Sri Lanka since February 2022 will need to apply for a visa or leave the country.

Informed sources said that some foreign nationals who had been conducting businesses illegally had already been deported in recent weeks and raids are presently being conducted, especially in the south as most establishments were unregistered.

This foreign tourists in the country with tourist visas are continuing business activities mainly in the tourist hot spots in the south and it has now spread to Ella, Sigiriya and anuradhapura areas.

The government will soon introduce new laws clearly stating that foreigners arriving in Sri Lanka under tourist visas will not be able to operate any businesses while here and those who wish to do so must enter through valid visas

Moreover foreigners must have a local partner in order to operate a business in the country and the business must be registered with the relevant institutions including the Sri Lanka Tourist Development Authority (SLTDA).

If any foreigner is caught going against these laws, they will be arrested and deported, sources said stating that presently the situation of tourists operating businesses had ‘gone out of control’.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has been briefed about the situation and has agreed to draft new and clear laws in order to prevent diplomatic misunderstandings with the countries concerned.

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