Is it currently safe to travel in Sri Lanka?

May 3 2019, 3:24 pm

Devastating attacks orchestrated on Easter Sunday have left many wondering whether it’s safe to travel in Sri Lanka.

The April 21 attacks consisted of several explosions detonated in unison at public sites across greater Colombo and Batticaloa, including hotels and churches. Explosions have left over 250 dead and 500 injured.

How safe is Sri Lanka for tourists now?

Officials at the Government of Canada suggests avoiding all non-essential travel to Sri Lanka until further notice.

A travel advisory for Sri Lanka was issued immediately after the attack. Since then, the calculated risk level has risen from “exercise a high degree of caution” on April 21 to:

Government of Canada travel advisory for Sri Lanka on May 3, 2019.

“The situation remains volatile. Others attacks could occur throughout the country. Local authorities have declared a state of emergency and curfew could be imposed at any time,” the advisory page reads.

The advisory also deems that further attacks are likely. Targets for further violence include government buildings, schools, places of worship, airports, and transportation hubs. Public areas that draw tourists and locals are also potential targets. Such locations should be avoided during this time.

Officials also suggest steering clear of the affected areas:

  • St Anthony’s Shrine, Kochchikade
  • St Sebastian’s Church, Negombo
  • Zion Church, Batticaloa
  • Cinnamon Grand, Colombo
  • Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo
  • The Kingsbury Hotel, Colombo
  • Near Dehiwala Zoo in Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia
  • A house in Mahawila Gardens, Dematagoda

What is being done to restore safety?

As a country emerging from civil war and political strife, not to mention a devastating 2004 tsunami, a surge in tourism over recent years injected the country with the hope and means to rebuild.

Facing a wave of cancellations, those working in Sri Lanka’s travel industry recognize the importance of security. According to Colombo Page, as many as one in 10 Sri Lankan families are supported by tourism. They seem hopeful that things will improve. 

A Sri Lankan hotel chain remains confident that extra security measures will help restore the perception that Sri Lanka is a safe place to visit. 

“We are very confident the security forces who have had all their powers restored will do everything needed to not only ensure the safety of all Sri Lankans and visitors but also restore the lost perception that Sri Lanka is as safe as any other country in the world,” Jetwing Hotels Chairman Shiromal Cooray said, in a statement

“They have already apprehended many and are continuing their search operations, for which we are grateful.”

Cooray is not alone; Sri Lanka Tourism has been discussing what measures can be taken to ensure security for tourists, not to mention stability in their industry.

“The Sri Lanka tourism industry stands united with the rest of the world against terrorism; as we mourn this horrific tragedy, we must move forward with our enduring Sri Lankan resilience to restore the world’s faith in our beautiful island home and our hospitality which is the heart of the Sri Lankan way of life,” Sri Lanka Tourism said, in an official statement.

“Sri Lankans are among the most warm and nurturing people on earth, when guests arrive on our shores they become family,” said Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Kishu Gomes.

“And when family is hurt the entire community comes together to protect, nurture, mourn and grieve, and heal together…this is our way and it has been our way from the beginning of time.”

“Addressing security issues is a prerequisite for the revival of tourism and we continue working closely with all relevant authorities to support all foreign nationals in the country. Sri Lankan police and Tri forces are working tirelessly to ensure the safety and security of all tourists currently in Sri Lanka. This is absolutely our first priority,” said Gomes.

Our thoughts are with those affected by the attacks and those working to rebuild a safe Sri Lanka. It certainly is one of our favourite places to travel, as we even named it one of the hottest backpacking destinations of the year.

As always, travellers are reminded to be alert, stay informed, and travel safely.