Thursday, 25 April 2019

UK updates travel advice for Sri Lanka - the FCO advise against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka

The United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated its travel advice to British Nationals on Sri Lanka.

Following the terrorist bombings that have killed over three hundred people in recent days as well as the chaotic security situation in the country, the FCO changed its advice today.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) now advise against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka.  Tourism is the third largest industry in Sri Lanka and thousands of British people go on holiday there each year. It's been estimated there are currently around 8,000 British people on holiday in Sri Lanka at the moment.

According to the FCO, terrorists are very likely to try to carry out more attacks in Sri Lanka. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. On 21 April 2019, bombs were used to attack 3 churches and 3 hotels in Sri Lanka: in central Colombo, in the northern suburb of Colombo Kochchikade, and in Negombo roughly twenty miles north of Colombo; and in the east of the country in Batticaloa. More than 300 people were killed, including at least 8 British nationals.

Security has been stepped up across the island. A State of Emergency and night-time curfew remain in place. The Sri Lankan authorities have made a number of arrests in relation to the attacks, and security operations are ongoing, including controlled explosions of suspicious packages and vehicles, and temporary evacuations of buildings. However, the extent of any continued threat following the 21 April attacks remains unclear. On 24 April 2019, the Sri Lanka police issued a warning that mosques may be targeted by attacks, specifying ‘Aulia’ Mosques connected with the ‘burial sites of Muslim Saints’.

See the FCO website for the full details of the travel advice.

Part of the advice to people already on holiday in Sri Lanka is to get in touch with the holiday company or airline and travel insurance company to ensure people are aware of arrangements that may be in place for customers. If you’re travelling independently, you should make your own arrangements to leave via commercial means, in consultation with your travel insurance company. If you choose to remain in Sri Lanka, then you should check that your insurance policy provides adequate cover - most will not cover.

Most responsible holiday companies in the UK have called a halt to future package holidays to the country because of od the advice, however as of 1720 Tui holidays were still selling trips to Sri Lanka.

A spokesperson for TUI said "We are aware of the change in advice by the FCO advising against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka. We have started to contact customers in resort and those who are due to travel in the next seven days to discuss changes to travel arrangements. The safety and security of our customers and staff remains our highest priority."

The UK's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "Following the horrific attacks on Easter Sunday, and the ongoing Sri Lankan security operation, I have received updated advice from the Foreign Office and decided to update the travel advice to British nationals to Sri Lanka to advise against all but essential travel.

We will keep this decision under close and constant review. My first priority will always be the security of British citizens living and travelling abroad. We all hope the situation will return to normal very soon, and that the Sri Lankan tourism industry is able to get back on its feet following the terrorist attacks. We will do all we can to help the Sri Lankan authorities."


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