Following pressure from the tourism industry, the new Sri Lanka visit visa fee will be much lower than originally planned. There is currently no visit visa fee. From 1 January 2012 it was expected that there would be a visit visa fee of $50. The visit visa fee for the year 2012 will now be US$20 instead of US$50. Last month Sri Lanka announced a processing fee of US$50 for tourists visas from next year, but many tourism operators were concerned the fees would mean fewer tourists holidaying in Sri Lanka, who would not only have to worry about Air Passenger Duty rises next year, but would also face paying extra money for tourist visas. Sri Lanka’s Immigration and Emigration Department launched the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system last month to grant prior approval online for visas for foreign nationals from 78 countries. Transit passengers and children under 12 will not have to pay any visa charges. The new ETA, which replaces the free visa-on-arrival system currently in place, takes a few days to process and requires visas to be purchased online prior to arrival in Sri Lanka. The ETA does not require any passport copies or photographs and is initially limited to 30 days from the date of arrival but may be extended up to six months. Sri Lanka Tourism marketing manager, Nabeel Shariff, defended the new charges saying the government wanted to be able to “track tourists” and they “were concerned, but the system is for every market, and not every market is in the same situation as the UK. It is still less than you pay for India or China. It is difficult from a UK perspective but we didn’t want to discriminate between countries.” The new tourist visa fees affect all tourists coming from other countries, except South Asian travellers who will only have to pay US$10 for the visa. Singapore and the Maldives are the only countries exempt from the requirement of obtaining ETA to visit Sri Lanka.