Is Sri Lanka safe for me to visit?
We’ve put down a list of FAQs to assist in answering this main question, but you don’t need to just take our word for it. You can also watch travel blogger Steve Yalo’s answer here
or you can check out posts from travellers holidaying in Sri Lanka here .
What happened on Easter Sunday?
On Easter Sunday (21 April 2019) 6 explosions went off in the Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo areas, targeting churches and luxury hotels, followed by smaller explosions in the Dematagoda and Dehiwela areas. Sri Lankan Authorities informed that the attacks were part of a series of coordinated bombings carried out by a local extremist group associated with an organisation known as the National Thowheeth Jama’ath. The leader of the group was one of the bombers involved, and has been confirmed by authorities as killed during one of the explosions. Authorities have since carried out active investigations, made arrests and exposed those responsible with the country returning to normalcy.
Was the whole of Sri Lanka physically affected by the Easter Sunday Events?
The short answer is No.
The explosions were at specific locations in the Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa areas. (Please refer map below. For a detailed breakdown of locations and timeline, download our PDF). The majority of areas around the island remained unaffected by any of the events on Easter Sunday.
Currently, even of the areas that were affected, owing to extensive search operations and active investigations carried out by Sri Lankan authorities, normalcy has been restored.
At present tourists, locals & other groups, including high-level international officials are arriving in Sri Lanka daily and their travel itineraries remain unchanged. All major parks, heritage sites, beaches and hotspots remain open and are functioning as normal.
I’ve heard about unrest & protests in certain areas in May 2019, are these connected with the group that carried out the Easter Sunday Attacks?
No they are not.
Beginning 13th May, clusters of disturbances and social unrest were reported in the North Western & Gampaha areas but these were subdued by security forces with the enforcement of curfew and stringent security measures.
Individuals involved in those incidents have already been arrested by Sri Lankan authorities.
Peaceful Public Marches were also organized in different parts of the island in early June.
What is the Security Situation like in Sri Lanka?
As is the standard practice in dealing with attacks such as this across the globe, security measures were increased and tri-forces were placed around the island. In the days following the attacks curfew and Emergency Regulations were put in place to ensure that investigations and security operations could be fast-tracked. Sri Lankan authorities also commissioned the support of international authorities to assist in preliminary investigations, including the FBI.
Since then, security levels by authorities remain at a vigilant level although the island has returned to the routine of everyday living. Many of the expats living in the island have explained that increased security measures by Sri Lankan authorities have provided a more comforting sense of security.
Why has the Sri Lankan Government declared a state of emergency?
In situations of national danger or disaster it is common practice for a government to suspends normal constitutional procedures in order to regain control of the situation at hand through a declaration of a state of emergency where special laws and procedures come into play. This also often aids to fast track investigations and in Sri Lanka’s case it is explicitly in the interest of public security and the preservation of public order. While the island has returned to its everyday routine, the emergency laws would be in place until end of July as declared by the president.
Should I worry about travel advisories imposed by other countries?
Strict travel advisories are a normal part of international protocol immediately following circumstances like the Easter Sunday attacks. The same can be seen during the Paris, Bali and Delhi Attacks.
Since Easter Sunday, majority of travel advisories have now been relaxed to minimum levels or have been removed by relevant foreign offices.
As of end July, Austria, Australia, Canada, China, Japan, UK, USA, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, India, Norway, the Netherlands and Italy have relaxed their initial advisories.
It might be important to note that even when travel advisories were at high alert levels, that officials and ambassadors of those countries apart of embassies in Sri Lanka carried out their normal events and programmes, with travel taking place normally. Here are some examples:
Taking one of #SriLanka’s iconic trains is one of the simple joys of living here. As we pass through diverse communities & towns I can’t help but appreciate the beauty that unfolds out my window. Big thanks to all the Sri Lanka Railways staff! pic.twitter.com/kBsxcYlrBt
— Ambassador Teplitz (@USAmbSLM) May 25, 2019
We encourage you to check out the twitter feeds of your respective embassies in Sri Lanka for more.
Will travel advisories be downgraded further?
Yes, for countries that haven’t yet lifted or downgraded their advisories, it’s only a matter of time. However It’s important to note that for many of the countries that downgraded advisories to ‘exercise high caution’ or similar, these were the existing advisories that stood before the attacks, and as such are the advisory norms for Sri Lanka from those countries.
Were these attacks part of Sri Lanka’s Internal Conflict?
Sri Lanka’s internal conflict ended in May 2009 & the country has been enjoying an era of peace and growth and was even named Lonely Planet’s number 1 destination to travel to in 2019.
Is curfew imposed in Sri Lanka right now?
Curfew is no longer active in the island with businesses and the public returning to normal routines.
Is traveling to Sri Lanka now a good decision?
Many tourists coming into the island are saying it is.
This is mainly due to the fact that currently, accommodation pricing is lower and as explained by travel blogger Steve Yalo travellers can make the best of fewer crowds when exploring the island.
Moreover higher security levels in the country mean a greater sense of safety and protection.
Another consideration is that roughly 1 in 10 families in Sri Lanka depend on the tourism industry. Making a visit during the industry’s recovery phase can help boost the process and aid communities who rely on tourism the most.