British tourists warned over political situation in SL


The United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has updated its advice to travellers to Sri Lanka, warning them to “exercise vigilance and avoid all demonstrations or large political gatherings”.

The update comes in the wake of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s sacking of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his cabinet on 26 October, and Mr Wickremesinghe’s subsequent refusal to leave office.

There have been political demonstrations in Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital, which the Foreign Office says are “likely to continue and may happen at short notice”. Over the weekend the bodyguard of the Sri Lankan oil minister fired into a crowd of protestors, killing one and injuring a further two people.

Travellers are advised to monitor the FCO’s Sri Lanka pages for further advice.

Sri Lanka recently topped Lonely Planet’s list of top countries to visit in 2019. Among its reasons to go, Lonely Planet said the country’s people defied “all odds by their welcome and friendliness after decades of civil conflict”.

Lonely Planet tweeted on 30 October that: “We’re aware of the current political situation in Sri Lanka which has occurred since we published our latest book Best in Travel 2019 (which ranks Sri Lanka as the number 1 country to travel to in 2019).

Despite this, travel to Sri Lanka remains largely unaffected. We’ll monitor developments but as with any travel we’d recommend you follow advice from your local government.”

Joe Bindloss, Lonely Planet’s destination editor for Sri Lanka, told The Independent: “The latest developments in Sri Lanka are disappointing, and a setback for those hoping to draw a line under the troubles of the past, but aside from advice to avoid protests and other large gatherings in Colombo, the FCO travel advice for Sri Lanka is unchanged, and at this stage, the political situation is not significantly affecting travel to the island.

“Political instability is, sadly, a fact of life in many countries in the South Asia region, but Sri Lanka remains a peaceful and safe travel destination compared to many of its neighbours. Things can change, however, and we always recommend that travellers check the latest travel advice from their home government before travelling to any country, for the latest, up-to-the-minute advice.