NewsSri Lanka Orders Russian and Ukrainian Tourists to Leave Amid Visa Issues

Sri Lanka Orders Russian and Ukrainian Tourists to Leave Amid Visa Issues

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Images source: © Getty Images | Tuul & Bruno Morandi

4:51 AM EST, February 29, 2024

Sri Lanka has directed thousands of Russians and Ukrainians residing in the country to depart by March 7. This directive is likely a repercussion of controversies surrounding Russian-operated companies involved in illegal endeavors and adopting "whites-only" policies.

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The South Asian authorities decided to revoke the extension of long-term tourist visas earlier this week. A notification from the Tourism Development Authority stipulated that tourists from Russia and Ukraine must exit Sri Lanka by the specified date.

Nonetheless, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has called for a thorough investigation into this issue, asserting that decisions regarding the revocation of visa extensions must receive cabinet approval.

"The government has not formally resolved to revoke the visa extensions previously sanctioned for these individuals," confirmed his office on Sunday.

Numerous Russians have sought refuge in Sri Lanka

Amidst stringent travel limitations following the Kremlin's military actions in Ukraine two years prior, a significant number of Russians have sought refuge in Sri Lanka, attracted by the possibility of extended stays. Last year, Russia emerged as the leading contributor to Sri Lanka's tourism, second only to India.

Official records from the Sri Lanka Tourism Department reveal that close to 200,000 Russians and 5,000 Ukrainians visited the 22 million-population country last year. The exact count of those who overstayed their conventional 30-day visa period is unknown, yet it's speculated that thousands, including individuals dodging the military draft, have remained. Among them are entrepreneurs who have ventured into the hospitality sector, opening restaurants and clubs.

The link between the government's decision and the recent controversy involving the Russian-operated Sarayka Lounge in Unawatuna, known for promoting "whites-only" events, remains speculative.

Source: The Independent

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