In our role as project managers, we have a great deal of experience of visiting Sri Lanka, buying property and carrying out building projects. Our foreign clients are often surprised at how differently things work here and although this is a huge part of the fun, there are some issues to be aware of.
When to visit: Sri Lanka has more bank holidays per year than almost any other country, so if you plan to have a productive visit full of meetings or shopping for fittings, you should pick your timing carefully. Some of the main holidays to be aware of are:
Land Acquisition: Foreigners can find the process of buying property in Sri Lanka more difficult and confusing than at home. This makes it interesting and exciting, but means that you must have a trusted agent to help you through. Willow can put you in touch with experts to help protect you from unexpected problems.
There are significant legal and tax implications of buying property in Sri Lanka, so again, you should appoint suitable legal and financial representation.
Foreign Investment: The Colombo to Galle stretch of the new highway has recently opened and has greatly reduced journey times: Colombo is now only an hour away and Colombo airport can be reached in under two and a half hours, depending on the time of day. In addition, the airport at Hambantota, about two hours drive from Galle, is being expanded to become an international airport. Combined with this, Sri Lanka's economy is growing rapidly, as is the tourist industry, making Galle and the south-coast increasingly attractive for foreign investment.
Visas: Obtaining a tourist visa to Sri Lanka is very straightforward, but for a longer stay the process gets more complicated. A range of options is listed below; note that these are subject to change so please see www.immigration.gov.lk for full details.