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Published on Friday, June 7, 2019

Operators 'thrilled' as Foreign Office lifts Sri Lanka travel ban






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The Foreign Office has lifted its travel ban for Sri Lanka, meaning tour operators will be able to return to the Indian Ocean island.



In an update to its travel advice today, the FCO said it was no longer advising against all non-essential travelto Sri Lanka. It said terrorist attacks were still 'very likely', but added that security had been stepped up across the island following the Easter Sunday bombings, which killed 258 people including British tourists



On its website, the FCO said travel within Sri Lanka might take longer than normal and tourists should allow extra time. Some airlines are advising passengers to arrive early to allow more time for screening.

The Sri Lanka government has introduced emergency regulations that ban the wearing of clothing or objects that conceal the face since the bombings, which it says were carried out by Sri Lankan citizens linked to the National Thowheeth Jama'ath militant Islamist group.



The FCO website adds: "The Sri Lankan government continues to use curfews as part of ongoing security operations. Most recently these have been put in place at short notice, and some have been limited to specific areas.



"The Sri Lankan authorities have confirmed that passengers with a passport and a valid flight ticket (including electronic ticket) can travel to the airport during curfew periods."



Visitors should 'remain vigilant', it said, and familiarise themselves with security procedures at~their hotel or accommodation. Three luxury hotels, the Shangri-La, The Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand in Colombo were amongst the buildings bombed on Easter Sunday. The FCO warned visitors that there could be a repeat of mob violence, that occured after the bombings, and that these outbreaks could happen without warning.



AITO members have been working closely with the Sri Lankan 'Government and its High Commissioner in London to ensure that all measures taken in Sri Lanka post the terrorist incidentshave been clearly and promptly notified to the UK Government.



AITO chairman Derek Moore said: "It is heartening that the Foreign Office Travel Advice has been amended and the advice against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka has been lifted.



"When a destination so popular with AITO members' customers suffers an incident, as Sri Lanka has, this is the time for us to show our support for the people in the destination by travelling there, rather than turning our backs on them.'



"We congratulate the Sri Lankans 'for their hard work and successful lobbying in this respect and I know that AITO members - and the UK travel industry as a whole - will be very happy indeed to send their customers to this gem of an island again."



AITO director Sam Clark of Experience Travel Group, which specialises in Asia, including Sri Lanka, said: "We are thrilled for our friends and colleagues in Sri Lanka, who can now get on with showing the world what a wonderful and welcoming destination Sri Lanka is.



"We thank the many clients who waited to see how the situation settled and have decided to support Sri Lanka by continuing to travel.



"The Brits are resilient travellers, and their ongoing support for Sri Lanka reflects the deep affection travellers have for the country, its people and its world-class tourism offering."

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TUI, which was forced to repatriate customers from Sri Lanka when the Foreign Office advised against all but essential travel said: "We are aware that the Foreign Commonwealth Office is no longer advising against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka. We will be reviewing our Sri Lanka holiday offering in due course and are not currently able to confirm when holidays will be available for our customers to book."

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