FAQ: Is It Safe to Travel to Sri Lanka Amid Economic Crisis? Experts Explain

Tourists from Britain, India, Canada, and Australia are re-thinking their travel plans to the island nation.

4 min read

The ongoing economic crisis in Sri Lanka has hit the country's tourism badly – which accounts for about 5 percent of its GDP. Although tourism could help the country earn the much-needed foreign currency, the situation isn't conducive for travel, with the country witnessing 13-hour blackouts every day.

Multiple media reports suggest that tourists from Britain, India, Canada, and Australia are re-thinking their travel plans to the island nation. So, is it safe to travel to Sri Lanka? Has India issued any travel advisory? Here's all you need to know.


I have a tourist visa to Sri Lanka. Can I travel to the country?

Yes, you can. The country has not put a ban on foreign tourists. However, do establish contact with your place of stay before you board the flight.

Is it safe to travel to Sri Lanka?

It is not advisable to travel to Sri Lanka for pleasure, said at least three travel agents who spoke to The Quint, adding that the security situation in the country is not conducive for tourism at the moment.

Curfews may be imposed on short notice, particularly in Colombo, warned the advisories from both Canada and UK.

Uncertainty of Local Vendors

Neelam Kumar, from Madras Travels and Tours, said that while they plan multiple trips to Sri Lanka during the summer months, they are asking people to cancel them.

"We have advised those who have booked to cancel the trips. We are also not taking any fresh bookings. The main reason being, we are unable to reach any of the hotels or the local bus/car drivers. Even if you do reach Sri Lanka, where do you stay? How do you travel between places? Best to postpone the trip to two months later," said Kumar.

Rajeev Kale, President & Country Head, Holidays, Thomas Cook (India), which also operates multiple tours to Sri Lanka, said that they were coordinating with stakeholders to help customers get back home.

"We are simultaneously coordinating with our local destination partners and airlines to make arrangements for our customers’ safe return to their home stations in India," he added.

Security Threat

A travel start-up that customises trip for tourists said that the uncertainty about security situation is also a primary reason behind their advice to postpone/cancel the trip.

"In case curfew is imposed again, the tourists will get stranded. What if they have a flight and there's curfew imposed? From what we understand, there is also the risk of civil unrest or widespread protests. We really do not want to put anyone at risk," said a person employed with the startup.

What about places other than Colombo? Like Galle, Kandy, and Mirissa? Can I visit these places?

Kumar added that while there are no reports of protests in parts other than Colombo, the power crisis has cut off other cities/tourist places in the country as well.

"Most people from India go to Colombo and then either take a bus/car/train to these other touristy places. But tour operators or even private individuals are unable to reach local vendors. Not just that, the cost of travelling from one place to another is going to get much more expensive," he said.

He also asked tourists to check the local bus and train timings, and to check if they are still operating before taking the decision to travel.

Are flights between India and Sri Lanka affected?

Yes, due to lower bookings and cancellations, the number of flights between India and Colombo has been cut down. If you have booked flights to Sri Lanka, do check with your respective airlines.

Air India has reduced its weekly flights to Colombo to 13 from 16 earlier. The revised schedule will come into effect from 8 April.

"Currently Air India is operating 16 flights a week – daily flights from Delhi and nine flights a week from Chennai," an Air India spokesperson said.

"We are witnessing lower bookings to Colombo due to the ongoing crisis. We are continuously monitoring the impact and may take appropriate action to adjust the capacity based on the demand and situation in Sri Lanka," Indigo, which operates flights to the country from multiple cities in India, said in a statement.

Has India issued travel advisory?

Not yet, but countries like the UK, Canada, and Australia have issued detailed travel advisories. All these three countries have said that "high degree of caution" has to be exercised before visiting the country.

I have made bookings at a Sri Lankan resort. But I am unable to contact the hotel/resort.

Being unable to reach vendors is one of the primary reasons given by travel agents in India, to postpone or cancel travel to the country. This is likely to happen as the country is facing power outage for long hours – which has disrupted access to internet. The Sri Lankan government on 3 April blocked social media platforms like WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, after emergency was declared.

The Sri Lankan government has released no advisory for tourists with regard to the current crisis.

I am traveling to Sri Lanka. What should I do to stay safe?

  • Make sure you carry relevant travel documents – as you may be asked to show them at check points.

  • If you are a foreigner, avoid large crowds and events.

  • Find a way to keep your phone fully charged, and monitor local media for updates.

What are the advisories issued by different countries?

The UK government has told its citizens travelling to Sri Lanka that they may experience a disruption to fuel supply and planned, lengthy power outages.

"There may be long queues at grocery stores, gas stations, and pharmacies. Local authorities may impose rationing of electricity, resulting in power outages," the UK government added.

Canada, meanwhile, has advised its citizens to keep supplies of food, water and fuel in hand in case of lengthy disruptions. It has also advised citizens to have sufficient supply of medicines in hand as they may not be available.

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