A devastating attack orchestrated on Easter Sunday has left many wondering if it is safe to travel in Sri Lanka.
The April 21 attack included multiple simultaneous explosions in public places in Greater Colombo and Batticaloa, including hotels and churches. The explosion has killed more than 250 people and injured more than 500.
How safe is Sri Lanka for tourists right now?
officials in canadian government All non-essential Sri Lanka travel is advised to avoid until further notice.
Sri Lanka Travel Advisory Issued immediately after the attack. The calculated risk level has since risen from “highly cautious” on April 21 to:
“The situation remains volatile. Other attacks are likely across the country. Local authorities have declared a state of emergency and may impose curfews at any time,” the advisory page reads.
The advisory also believes further attacks are likely. Targets of further violence included government buildings, schools, places of worship, airports and transport hubs. Public areas that attract tourists and locals are also potential targets. Such places should be avoided during this time.
Officials also advise avoiding affected areas:
- St. Anthony Shrine, Kochchikade
- St Sebastian’s Church, Negombo
- Batticalothian Church
- Cinnamon Hotel Colombo
- Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo
- The Kingsbury Colombo
- Near Dehiwala Zoo in Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia
- A house in Mahawila Gardens, Dematagoda
What steps are being taken to restore safety?
As a country emerging from civil war and political strife, not to mention the devastating 2004 tsunami, a surge in tourism in recent years has infused the country with hope and the means to rebuild.
Faced with a wave of cancellations, those in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry recognize the importance of safety. According to Colombo Page, as many as one in 10 Sri Lankan households depend on tourism for their livelihoods. They seem to be hoping things will improve.
A Sri Lankan hotel chain remains confident that extra security measures will help restore perceptions of Sri Lanka as a safe tourist destination.
“We are very confident that the security forces, which have been restored to all powers, will do everything they can to not only ensure the safety of all Sri Lankans and tourists, but also restore the lost perception that Sri Lanka is as safe as any other country in the world” Jetwing Hotels Chairman Shiromal Cooray said in a statement.
“They have made many arrests and are continuing their search operations, for which we are grateful.”
Cooray is not alone. The Sri Lanka Tourism Board has been debating what can be done to ensure the safety of tourists, not to mention the stability of their industry.
“Sri Lanka tourism stands in solidarity with the rest of the world against terrorism; as we mourn this terrible tragedy, we must move forward with Sri Lanka’s enduring resilience to restore the world’s faith in our beautiful island home and our hospitality , which is at the heart of the Sri Lankan way of life,” Sri Lanka Tourism Board says, in an official statement.
“Sri Lankans are some of the warmest and most cultured people on earth and when guests come to our shores they become family,” said Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Kishu Gomes.
“When families are hurt, the whole community comes together to protect, to nurture, to mourn and to grieve, and to heal together … that’s our way, and it’s been our way from the beginning.”
“Addressing security concerns is a prerequisite for tourism recovery and we will continue to work closely with all relevant authorities to provide support to all foreign nationals in the country. The Sri Lanka Police and Tri Force are working tirelessly to ensure the safety and security of all tourists currently in Sri Lanka. Safety. That’s definitely our number one priority,” Gomez said.
Our thoughts are with those affected by the attacks and those working to rebuild a safe Sri Lanka. It’s certainly one of our favorite places to travel, as we even named it one of the top backpacking destinations of the year.
As always, travelers are reminded to stay vigilant, stay informed and travel safely.