IS SRI LANKA SAFE FOR ME TO TRAVEL TO?
OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019 UPDATE — TESTIMONIES FROM TOURISTS ON THE ISLAND
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: