Sri Lanka travel: what should you do?

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The UK is advising against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka.

The advice from the Foreign Office comes after the Easter Sunday bombings in which more than 350 people died.

“Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Sri Lanka,” it said in its advice. “Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.”

Travellers should keep in touch with their airline, tour operator and insurer to see what their options are.

They should also “remain vigilant, keep up to date with developments and follow the advice of local security authorities and hotel security staff”.

There are an estimated 8,000 British tourists in Sri Lanka.

Am I covered by my insurance?

How you are covered depends on the terms of your policy.

If you are due to travel but cancel because of the Foreign Office advice, some insurers will provide cover for your flight or holiday costs.

If you are already in Sri Lanka, your travel insurance continues to cover you for medical and other risks.

If you want to come home more quickly than planned, insurers ask you to check with your tour operator if you have one to see if they will bring you back.

But some will cover you for an early return. It depends on the policy.

Can I go on my holiday?

Tour operators will not send you to Sri Lanka if the Foreign Office advises against it.

If departure is imminent – such as the next few days – they will give you the choice of deferring your travel plans in case the advice changes, choosing an alternative holiday, or having your money back.

If the advice persists, the option to defer will obviously disappear. But holidaymakers should not suffer financially.

What if I made my own booking for flights and accommodation?

Many people travelling to Sri Lanka will have arranged their holidays independently or be visiting family or friends.

In these circumstances airlines may be sympathetic and allow you to change flights but they are unlikely to offer a refund.

Some insurance policies provide cover if you can’t use accommodation you’ve paid for, but that cover is rare.

ABTA, the Association of British Travel Agents, thinks that there are not many people on packages in Sri Lanka, maybe only a few hundred. They say people who are there should be able to carry on with holidays and come back at the arranged time, as long as they follow Foreign Office advice.

What are travel companies saying?

Tour operator TUI said: “We have started to contact customers in resorts and those who are due to travel in the next seven days to discuss changes to travel arrangements. The safety and security of our customers and staff remains our highest priority.”

The Association of British Insurers said: “Travel insurance is designed to cover unforeseen events like this. Cancellation cover under your travel insurance should cover additional costs that cannot be refunded by your travel provider.”

“If you are currently in Sri Lanka and want to curtail your visit and return early, your travel insurance should cover any extra costs associated with rearranging return flights. Check if you have the necessary cover in place or speak to your travel insurer.”

What are other countries saying?

  • Canada: Advises against all but non-essential travel.
  • China: Advising Chinese nationals not to travel to Sri Lanka in the near term.
  • US: Exercise increased caution (the third-highest level).
  • Hong Kong: Adjust travel plans, avoid non-essential travel (the second-highest level).
  • Israel: Israeli travellers should leave the island as soon as possible, and those planning to visit were advised to cancel their trips (the second-highest level warning).
  • Australia: Think seriously about whether you need to travel to Sri Lanka due to high level of risk. Have contingency plans and check insurance if you do decide to travel.
  • Malta: Avoid all travel to Sri Lanka.
  • Ireland: Advises exercising a high degree of caution.

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