Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Travel: What Should You Do?

Sri Lanka Travel: What Should You Do?

  • Simon Gomperz
  • Personal finance reporter for BBC News

Image Source, Getty Images

The UK advises against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka.

The Foreign Office’s advice follows the Easter Sunday bombings, which killed more than 350 people.

“Terrorists are likely to attempt an attack in Sri Lanka,” it said in its advice. “Attacks can be indiscriminate, including where foreigners have been.”

Travelers should check with their airlines, travel agents and insurance companies to see what options are available to them.

They should also “remain vigilant, stay abreast of developments and follow the advice of local security and hotel security personnel”.

There are an estimated 8,000 British tourists in Sri Lanka.

Am I covered?

How you are covered depends on the terms of your policy.

Some insurance companies will cover the cost of your flight or holiday if you plan to travel but cancel due to advice from the Foreign Office.

If you are already in Sri Lanka, your travel insurance will continue to cover you for medical and other risks.

If you want to go home sooner than planned, the insurance company will ask you to check with your travel agent to see if they will take you back.

But some will give you an early return guarantee. It depends on policy.

can i go on vacation

The travel agency will not send you to Sri Lanka if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs objects.

If departure is imminent – for example in the next few days – they will give you the option to postpone your travel plans in case the advice changes, choose another holiday or get a refund.

If the advice sticks, the option to postpone will apparently disappear. But holidaymakers shouldn’t be affected financially.

What if I book the flight and accommodation myself?

Many people who travel to Sri Lanka make their own arrangements for holidays or to visit family or friends.

In this case, the airline might be sympathetic and allow you to change your flight, but they’re unlikely to offer a refund.

Some insurance policies provide coverage if you cannot use the accommodation you have paid for, but such coverage is rare.

ABTA, the British Association of Travel Agents, believes that there are not many people on the package in Sri Lanka, possibly only a few hundred people. They said those there should be able to remain on leave and return at an arranged time as long as they follow the advice of the Foreign Office.

What do travel companies say?

Tour operator TUI said: “We have begun contacting customers at our resorts and those who will be traveling within the next seven days to discuss changes to travel arrangements. The safety and security of our customers and staff remains our top priority.”

The Association of British Insurance Companies says: “Travel insurance is designed to cover such unforeseen events. Cancellation cover under your travel insurance should cover additional costs that your travel provider cannot refund.”

“If you are currently in Sri Lanka and want to cut down on your visit and return earlier, your travel insurance should cover any additional costs associated with rescheduling your return flight. Check that you have the necessary coverage or contact your travel insurance company.”

What do other countries say?

  • Canada: All but essential travel advised against.
  • China: Chinese citizens are advised not to travel to Sri Lanka in the near future.
  • United States: Proceed with caution (third highest level).
  • Hong Kong: Adjust travel plans to avoid non-essential travel (second highest level).
  • Israel: Passengers from Israel should leave the island as soon as possible. Those who plan to go to the island should cancel their trip (Level 2 warning).
  • Australia: Seriously consider whether you need to travel to Sri Lanka, the risk is higher. If you decide to travel, make a contingency plan and check your insurance.
  • Malta: Avoid all travel to Sri Lanka.
  • Ireland: A high degree of caution is advised.

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