Sri Lanka travel advice: Foreign Office declares country safe again

Hugh Morris
The Foreign Office previously advised against

British holidaymakers are able to return to Sri Lanka after the Foreign Office (FCO) lifted its restrictions on travel to the country.

The island in the Indian Ocean had been out of bounds in the wake of the Easter Sunday bombings seven weeks ago that killed nearly 300 people. But today the FCO said the country was safe to return to.

It warned that terrorists are still “very likely to try to carry out attacks” there and said visitors should “continue to remain vigilant.''

The news was greeted with relief and joy from the country’s cheerleaders. “Tourism is a big part of their economy and the FCO update is only good news for the Sri Lankan people,” said Kerry Golds, managing director of tour operator Abercrombie & Kent.

“Sri Lanka is brimming with lush landscapes, ancient treasures and amazing people. Now is the time that they need our support.”

Malik Fernando, owner of Resplendent Ceylon resorts in Sri Lanka, said: “We have a close connection with the UK as one our biggest inbound markets and look forward to welcoming visitors back with open arms.

"We are extremely grateful for the outpouring of support over the past month and have no doubt that a bright and peaceful future lies ahead.”

Rachel O'Reilly from tour operator Kuoni said Sri Lanka holidays will be on sale again tomorrow (June 7), adding all booked trips will now operate as planned. “It’s very good news. Sri Lanka is a destination we love and it has so much to offer," she said.

"We have many close colleagues and friends there and we’ll be working with them over the coming days and weeks ahead to talk about what we can do in partnership to rebuild confidence in the destination.”

Its tea terraces are one of the country's draws Credit: istock

What should I do if travelling soon?

The FCO retains much of the advice it issued in the wake of the attacks.

It says security has been stepped up across the island and a State of Emergency remains in place. It adds that emergency regulations of a ban on wearing clothing or objects that conceal the face is still in effect.

It warns of repeats of the mob violence that followed the Easter bombings: “These could happen again with little or no warning.”

“If you’re visiting or resident in Sri Lanka, you should continue to remain vigilant and keep up to date with developments, including via this travel advice,” the FCO said. “Take sensible precautions, familiarise yourself with security procedures at your hotel or accommodation and follow the advice of local authorities and hotel security staff. Avoid crowded public places, large gatherings and any demonstrations.

Fisherman at dusk in Galle Credit: istock

“The authorities have announced emergency regulations that ban the wearing of clothing or objects that conceal the face in such a way that prevents the wearer’s identification. Travel within Sri Lanka may take longer than normal – you should check with your travel provider well in advance and allow extra time.

"If you’re travelling from Colombo Airport, check the latest advice from your airline or tour operator about check-in times. Some airlines are advising passengers to arrive early due to increased security screening.”

"If you’re travelling from Colombo Airport, check the latest advice from your airline or tour operator about check-in times. Some airlines are advising passengers to arrive early due to increased security screening.”

Bandaranaik International, the main airport near Colombo, is advising passengers to arrive at the airport at least fours before departure, due to the introduction of additional security measures. It also says that only travellers, and not accompanying guests, will be allowed inside the terminal.