UK’s concerns cannot be challenged: SLTDA

  • UK issues travel advisory against Sri Lanka over ongoing crisis
  • SLTDA Chairman says SL remains honest and open
  • Adds continuous lobbying underway to remove advisory

By Imsha Iqbal 

Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Chairman Priantha Fernando stated that while the concerns of the UK – which resulted in a travel advisory being imposed against Sri Lanka – are valid, the SLTDA is continuously working towards pushing the UK to remove this advisory. 

Speaking to The Morning Business, SLTDA Chairman Priantha Fernando stated: “Sri Lanka remains honest and open, as the country cannot afford to lose credibility in the long term as a destination, even while we lobby the British authorities to remove the advisory.” 

The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the Government of the UK issued a travel advisory on Tuesday (5) to all British citizens to avoid travelling to Sri Lanka outside essential purposes due to the current economic crisis in the island, excluding those in transit through the country’s international airport. 

Fernando stressed the SLTDA cannot challenge any decision in this regard, but that it is lobbying to change this by informing the relevant authorities of the exact situation in the country. 

The SLTDA is thus to work with the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Tourism and Lands, and missions abroad such as travel associations, towards informing other countries of the exact situation in the country. 

The FCDO statement further said: “Sri Lanka is experiencing a severe economic crisis which has led to shortages of basic necessities including medicines, cooking gas, fuel, and food. There is a major shortage of fuel (diesel and petrol) affecting transport, businesses, and emergency services. There are daily power cuts due to electricity rationing. This has led to protests and violent unrest. Further protests, demonstrations, roadblocks, and violent unrest could occur at short notice.”

Discussing the travel advisory, Fernando explained that the British authorities have expressed concern over the current ground realities in the country because they are responsible for informing their citizens about the destinations to which they travel.   

Fernado added: “The SLTDA has emphasised that some may have to undergo certain difficulties in obtaining fuel, but we are trying our best to facilitate tourist movement.”

As a measure in this regard, the SLTDA has expanded the number of outlets where fuel is distributed, as it was previously only confined to licensed travel and tour vehicles, but has now been extended to registered hotels and water sports operators. Thus, those activities are not affected, Fernando assured.  

He added that the SLTDA will take things one step at a time due to the ground reality, but that they are “quite confident”, as they are hopeful there will be some solutions to mitigate the fuel issues.

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