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Sri Lanka extends helping hand for 4000 Ukrainian tourists

Sri Lanka is bracing for what could be a major impact to the already unstable economy as a result of the crisis in Ukraine as nearly 4,000 Ukrainian tourists are stranded in the country currently.

The Government will be providing every possible assistance including an extension of their visas to stay in the country for these tourists who are in distress at present due to a war declared by Russia, SL foreign Ministry announced.

Russia’s military operation in Ukraine is expected to hit Sri Lanka’s tourism sector as well as tea exports and the purchasing of oil.

Nearly 4,000 Ukrainian tourists currently in Sri Lanka are to be granted a visa extension owing to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said that the Government is considering extending the visas of Ukrainian tourists who are unable return home.

He said that a proposal in this regard will be presented to the Cabinet during its weekly meeting tomorrow (Monday).

Ranatunga also said that the Ministry of External Affairs is also discussing the proposal with the Department of Immigration and Emigration.

Minister Ranatunga also mentioned that since visas are issued to tourists for a minimum period of one month, necessary steps will be taken after considering the expiration date of visas for Ukrainian tourists in the country.

According to the Tourism Development Authority, nearly 4,000 Ukrainian tourists are currently staying in Sri Lanka, while the number of Russian tourists staying in Sri Lanka is close to 11,500.

Foreign Secretary Admiral Jayanath Colombage said that the most number of tourists to Sri Lanka arrived from Russia and Ukraine in the recent past.

He said that Sri Lanka is expecting arrivals from those countries to be affected as a result of the crisis in Ukraine.“That will have a major impact on us,” the Foreign Secretary said at a virtual media briefing yesterday.

Colombage also said that Sri Lanka will find it hard to sell its tea as a result of the crisis in Ukraine.Russia and Ukraine are among the key countries to which Sri Lanka exports tea.

He also said that Sri Lanka will be compelled to pay more for oil and gas imported to the country.World oil prices have already shot up as a result of the situation in Ukraine and Sri Lanka will need more dollars to pay for the imports.

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