Is it safe to travel to Sri Lanka?
LOCATED in the Indian Ocean southwest of the Bay of Bengal and southeast of the Arabian Sea, Sri Lanka has been a popular place of attraction for foreign travelers.
With a documented history which spans 3,000 years, it has a rich cultural heritage and the first known Buddhist writing of Sri Lanka. Its geographic location and deep harbors made it of great strategic importance from the time of the ancient Silk Road through to the modern Maritime Silk Road.
From exploring its lush green tea plantations in search of its popular Ceylon tea to traversing the Yala national park in hopes of spotting wild elephants and leopards, and even right down to sampling the local delicacies in the capital city of Colombo which are unique to the country, Sri Lanka is undoubtedly a world of its own.
Unfortunately, a series of devastating attacks which ripped through Sri Lanka over Easter Sunday has abruptly halted all tourism activities.
Early Easter Sunday, a wave of bombings took place in luxury hotels (the Shangri La, Cinnamon Grand, and Kingsbury, all in the capital city Colombo) and churches across the country, killing approximately 290 people and wounding hundreds more.
The first wave of attacks struck at the heart of the country’s minority Christian community during busy Easter services at churches in the cities of Colombo, Negombo, and Batticaloa on Sunday morning, leaving the entire country in a state of lock-down.
According to Sri Lankan officials. the attacks were carried out with the support of an international network, BBC reported. At the time of writing, the Sri Lankan police have since arrested 24 people in a series of raids and the president’s office declared a state of national emergency.
“The emergency declaration, which comes into effect from midnight (19:30 GMT) on Monday, will give police and military extensive powers to detain and interrogate suspects without court orders,” according to BBC.
What does this mean for those heading to Sri Lanka or are currently in the country at the moment?
For starters, travelers should expect very elaborate security checks. To add on, Sri Lankan Airlines has advised passengers “of all airlines” to report four hours prior to departure. Security has also been beefed up across Colombo so you should factor in a few hours to accommodate roadblocks and checks at the allocated checkpoints.
While India has not issued any warning to its citizens who plan to visit Sri Lanka, India’s flag carrier Air India has offered a full waiver on rescheduling or cancellation on all flights to or from Colombo until April 24. Low-cost airline IndiGo has extended the same until April 30.
Sri Lanka has also decided to observe April 23 as the National Day of Mourning.