World-famous holiday spots such as the coast of Sri Lanka won’t be blocked for American tourists under a new policy promoted by the country’s President.
On Saturday, President Maithripala Sirisena signed orders that will allow international travelers to enter the country without using a national ID card.
Sirisena expanded an existing policy of allowing entry to foreigners without a national ID card if they carry foreign passports, but the recent order raises the number of exemptions to almost 3 million people on the nation’s population of 19 million. They include those with disabilities, students and diplomats, and those who work in tourist areas.
Under the previous system, foreigners were blocked in most parts of the country, including the southern and southern coastal districts popular with European and American tourists.
As of now, the order applies only to new arrivals.
However, it could have wider implications, with the government planning to implement universal identity cards for the whole country, Sirisena’s office said in a statement on Sunday. Under the plan, the identity cards would be linked to passports, bank accounts and bank transactions.
Under the new policy, foreign nationals with foreign national ID cards will be able to enter Sri Lanka without obtaining a passport by applying at the offices of the Sri Lanka High Commission in their countries of origin. However, those who do not have foreign national ID cards will need to apply through the Sri Lanka High Commission and obtain a passport, the government said.
Sirisena took office in January and has worked to change the policies of the former regime.