The UK is the latest country to relax its travel advisory on Sri Lanka. After the terrorist attack on Easter Sunday, many countries issued travel warnings, ranging from caution to ‘do not travel’.
The United Kingdom issued advice against all by essential travel on 25 April. As the third largest source market for Sri Lanka, the impact was quickly felt, in April visitor numbers from the UK were down 5.2 per cent year on year.
On June 6, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) relaxed the travel advisory and no longer advise against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka. This follows several other countries who have relaxed their travel advise, and is a step welcomed by the industry.
The FCO update still warns about the risk to travellers and advisors visitors and residents to “remain vigilant”. “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Sri Lanka. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners”.
The travel also notes the Government’s use of curfews, emergency regulations and the ban on clothing that conceals the face. Heightened security and “outbreaks of mob violence” that “could happen again with little or no warning” are also factors.
“I am glad that we have been able to make this change,” Acting High Commissioner Tom Burn said in a news report.
“We know how difficult these weeks have been for everyone in Sri Lanka who relies on tourism for a living. Our primary concern will always be safety, and our travel advice continues to warn of the threat of further attacks in Sri Lanka. “But we hope that the change we have made today will help Sri Lanka’s recovery from the Easter Sunday attacks, and to efforts to build a safe and inclusive future for everyone.”
In 2018, visitors from the UK accounted for 26% of overall tourist arrivals, reaching 254,000. During the first three months of 2019, UK tourist arrivals were up 10.8 per cent, making the UK the second largest source market prior to the attacks.