Love Sri Lanka Explore



By Lisa Whyte

We published an article back in May, a few weeks after the Easter attacks here in Sri Lanka, asking how tourists and expats on-the-ground were finding the situation with a particular focus on safety and security. “Is it safe?”, “Should I cancel my booking?”, “How long should we wait until things return to normal?” were questions flying around the internet. While Sri Lanka gradually bounced back to its bustling self, (you can check out our “traveler posts” section on our website for live photo updates) there was momentum by all sectors to continue to recognize the importance of accurate and trustworthy information surrounding safety and security for those abroad and also on the island.

Since April 2019 no other incident has occurred, so we wanted to share a chronological snapshot of the key decisions and actions that followed:

  • May 7, President declares the security situation is under control
  • May 29, five countries lift travel restrictions
  • June 20, further 15 countries lift travel restrictions
  • July 1, Lonely planet retains Sri Lanka as number 1 destination to visit in 2019
  • August 5, free Tourist Visa Scheme introduced for 48 countries
  • August 23, Sri Lankan Government ends the State of Emergency
  • August 30, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) report 72% of tourist numbers from August 2018 have returned in 2019 (143,000 people)
  • September 30, SLTDA report 73% of tourist numbers from September 2018 have returned in 2019 (108,000 people)

This tells a positive story of Sri Lanka’s resilience, including the trust by foreign tourists returning to visit our idyllic island nation. Just this morning in fact, an article was published by CNN focusing on tourism resilience, highlighting Sri Lanka as a key case study.

However, six months on we still believe safety and security is a topic we want to continually focus on so that foreign tourists, Sri Lankan diaspora and expats can make an informed decision on traveling to the teardrop isle.

With the return of 73% of tourists this month compared to 2018 (according to SLTDA), we spoke to three separate groups traveling in Sri Lanka, here are their testimonies:

Mindy and Chris

In Sri Lanka for three weeks
October 2019

For Australian newlyweds Mindy and Chris, the choice for their Honeymoon was between Mexico and Sri Lanka, a holiday focused on culture and the beach in a country neither of them had been to yet.

“Of course we wanted to know how much freedom and a feeling of ease we would have if we went to Sri Lanka. One thing we did notice when booking was that many hotels had heavily discounted their prices, so we were able to go the extra mile and splurge a little bit more for less, which was a win. Visas were free, too, and many of our friends have been it was always highly recommended.”

“Reflecting on the holiday as a whole, I don’t feel the Sri Lankan way of living has been disrupted at all. By that I mean every interaction we had, from the guys who took us out fishing and then back to their place for a BBQ, to our guide who made sure he introduced us to his family to have tea and the rangers inside the national park, all were so unbelievably knowledgeable, welcoming and hospitable.” Mindy


Travelling solo for two weeks
October and November 2019

“I remember telling my mum back in Ireland about this trip, that I’d be traveling solo in Sri Lanka and then India and to be honest she wasn’t that keen on it. She gave me so many hand sanitizers, mosquito repellents, bandages and other medicines which made me laugh (she’s a nurse so I guess that makes a bit more sense). But Sri Lanka has been on my list for a while so I managed to convince her I’d be fine.

“Being here now, I’m finding every corner of the island offers something different to do, not to mention the food, the food is something else…Despite it feeling like there’s not a lot of tourists, the impression I’m getting is that every hostel and guest house I stay at are just over the moon to share their culture with me.

“I actually caught public transport the other day, I felt pretty brave. I immediately got offered a seat despite the bus being jammed full which I didn’t expect. I was the only foreigner onboard but it was totally fine. I’d do it again, but just drink less water…there’s no toilet.” Caitlin

Michel, Sandrine, Mathieu, Florien

Family traveling for 10 days
October 2019

Florien, who is traveling with his family, said the only concern they had for their safety and security was by people who were back in France. “It was kind of funny, as soon as we arrived at the airport we felt fine, so many policeman and security agents…but our auntie and uncle were messaging us a lot as they wanted to constantly check we were ok. I guess it’s not easy for someone who isn’t here to imagine what it might be like, but at the end of the day, the only time I felt unsecure was when an elephant came very close to our Jeep!!

“I was also amazed how the internet connection was so easy, cheap and fast, because this helped us stay connected and share our great experience with our family in France.” Florien

Whether you’re planning to come to Sri Lanka for the beautiful beaches on the East or South coast, the history of the North, the tea plantations in the hills, the traditional food, or the temples scattered around the country, the island is ready and waiting. Follow us on Facebook for ongoing updates, or visit our website for more information.