Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka travel advice: How has guidance changed and is it safe for holidaymakers amid protests?

Violent protests have taken place in Sri Lanka as the country faces an economic crisis.

In recent days, the army has been ordered to open fire on looters after protesters set fire to the houses of some prominent politicians.

In response, a nationwide curfew was imposed and the Foreign Office (FCDO) updated its guidance for the Southeast Asian country. Meanwhile, at least one travel agency has cancelled Sri Lankan holidays to the island in the coming weeks.

So what are the latest rules and are holidaymakers safe to travel there? Here’s everything we know so far.

What happened in Sri Lanka?

For a month and a half Sri Lanka has been plagued by protests that have spread from the capital to the countryside in response to severe shortages of fuel, gas and medicines and rolling blackouts. People have been queuing for hours to buy essentials.

A state of emergency was declared on May 6; last week, protesters set fire to homes and businesses belonging to ruling party lawmakers and politicians. Eight people were killed and more than 200 injured in the riots, according to local police.

The violence led to the resignation of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on 9 May. Many blame Rajapaksa and his brother, the president, for dragging the country into its worst economic crisis in decades.

An island-wide curfew was imposed this week, effective immediately, in response to a growing row between protesters and pro-government mobs.

Are vacationers subject to a curfew?

Although there is a curfew, holidaymakers can leave the country at any time. The Sri Lanka Tourism Board has confirmed that during the curfew period, international travelers can present their passports and air tickets to and from the airport.

Can I cancel my holiday to Sri Lanka?

The Foreign Office (FCDO) updated its travel advice for Sri Lanka on 13 May and now advises against all but essential travel to the country.

This is important for two reasons: First, package holiday companies should refund your trip under the Package Travel Regulations, even if they didn’t cancel the holiday themselves, within 14 days. This does not include travel where flights and accommodation are booked separately, but you can try to request a refund.

Second, the “all but essential travel” FCDO recommendation invalidates most travel insurance policies, with a few exceptions.

Some holidays from the UK to Sri Lanka are still open and many tour operators are advising customers that it is safe to travel there. The unrest was concentrated in the capital Colombo – especially the Galle face area – and the city of Kandy in the centre of the country. Many tour operators’ packages focus on beach resorts on the island’s west coast.

However, some companies are modifying their itineraries to avoid Colombo – for example, Experience Travel Group has changed packages so that “people can enjoy the beach or indoors for longer”.

What does the Ministry of Foreign Affairs say?

“Due to the ongoing political and economic instability, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is now advising against travel to Sri Lanka except for essential travel. This advice does not apply to airside transit through Sri Lanka International Airport.

“A state of emergency has been declared and an island-wide curfew has been imposed.

“Several incidents of violence against protesters occurred on May 9, including in the Galleface area, where authorities used tear gas and water cannons. There were also incidents in Colombo, near Lake Beira in Kandy, and in other parts of the country. , causing casualties. More incidents may occur. You should avoid all protests and follow the advice of local authorities.

“The union has indefinitely called for strike action. This could result in disruption to public services, including transport. Flights and airport operations continue to operate.

“The economic situation in Sri Lanka is deteriorating due to a lack of hard currency to pay for imports, with shortages of basic necessities including medicines, fuel and food. Grocery stores, petrol stations and pharmacies may experience long queues. Local authorities may introduce electricity rationing , causing a power outage.

“There have been several protests since March 31, 2022. A state of emergency was declared on May 6. There are reports that further protests may occur across the island. Sri Lankan government may impose local restrictions at short notice .”

If Britons are currently in the country, what should they do?

The Foreign Office advised travellers to “be vigilant, avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings and follow the advice of local authorities.”

Most of the protests and clashes were concentrated in cities such as Colombo and Kandy.

Tui’s advice to those currently on holiday in Sri Lanka is to keep an eye on the rest of the itinerary, saying “customers currently on holiday can continue to enjoy their holiday as planned”.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button