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International Business Times UK
International Business Times UK
Danielle Summer

Sri Lanka Might Kick Out All Russian and Ukrainian Tourists By March 7 Due to 'White-Only' Bars

Last year, the number of Sri Lankans applying for passports more than doubled compared to 2021 and the trend has continued. (Credit: Ishara S. KODIKARA/AFP)

This week, the Tourism Development Authority in Sri Lanka has ordered all Ukrainian and Russian tourists to leave the South Asian nation by the 7 March.

Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, more than six million Ukrainian civilians have fled the war-torn country.

An estimated one million Russian nationals have also fled their home country since 2022, according to ShareAmerica data.

As the Russia-Ukraine conflict continues, according to official data, Sri Lanka has welcomed around 300 to 400 Russian and Ukrainian nationals who have fled the fighting, on free tourist visas.

Although the Sri Lankan Immigration Department said that all Russian and Ukrainian visas were being extended due to the "non-operation of airlines in the region" in January this year, the Tourism Development Authority warned Russian and Ukrainian nationals that all free visa extensions have been halted.

Tiran Alles, the Public Security Minister for Sri Lanka, told reporters that the nationals will only be permitted to stay in the country on a paid visa extension. The rate is around £40 for a 30-day stay, the Public Security Minister said.

Alles went on to note that anyone who "wants to stay back can apply for new visas", and will be able to "immediately renew their visas and remain here".

Sri Lanka, currently

This news comes after a "whites only" party sparked outrage across the nation.

The "White Party" event was organised by a Russian-run nightclub and was advertised in the Sarayka Lounge in Unawatuna - a popular coastal town located just three miles from the tourist hub of Galle.

The advertisement in the Sarayka Lounge was not met with criticism as it specified a white dress code and said that three Russian DJs would be performing.

However, a poster advertising the event on Instagram included a line that read: "Face Control: White".

Social media users were quick to report and criticise the statement, interpreting it to mean that only White people could attend the party.

On Friday, the bar took to Instagram to announce that it had cancelled the event and would "never support various racist statements or organisations".

On Instagram, one of the organisers of the event said that the racist accusations against him have led to threats and abuse that have forced his family to move off of the island.

Attempting to apologise in an Instagram post, the co-organiser, @geo_ecstatic, wrote: "We were sitting in a cafe and discussing that people living far from their homeland have a lot in common and it would be great to gather everyone in one place."

"There was no malice or racism in this," he declared, noting that his family had been abused for his "stupid idea of making a white party".

The event was organised because "we wanted to meet expats who have been living here for a long time and love Sri Lanka," the co-organiser added.

The Russian Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka, also responded to the allegations.

While urging Russian nationals to comply with the country's rules and regulations, the embassy said that Russia "strongly condemns all forms of racial discrimination".

The Russian Embassy went on to call the "White Party" a "controversial night event" and confirmed: "According to unconfirmed data, the main promoter as well as the owners of a bar who agreed to accommodate the party are Russian citizens."

Sri Lankan President Ramil Wickremesinghe has since ordered an investigation into the visa scrapping, arguing that the visas could not be cancelled without Cabinet approval.

On Sunday, in a post on X, his office wrote: "The Govt hasn't officially decided to revoke visa extensions previously granted to these tourists."

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