Returning to Sri Lanka
** Update: As of 6 June 2019, we’re very pleased to report that the UK Foreign Office is no longer advising against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka. This is great news for our friends and colleagues who rely on tourism in this beautiful country. We give you our full support. **
We love Sri Lanka. Not only has it been one of our best-selling destinations, but it was the destination of the Bratt’s first family adventure and due to the nature of its people, has seen our suppliers across the country become our friends.
So imagine our delight when we were invited to attend the launch of “So Sri Lanka” by Sri Lanka’s Department of Tourism last November. The new marketing campaign was to help boost the already thriving tourism industry in Sri Lanka, and encourage travellers to embrace the truly incredible culture of the island – a very Mark Bratt Travel approach!
To our delight our Chief Experience Officer, Scott, was the lucky winner of the star prize; return flights to the island with the nations carrier; Sri Lankan Airlines, along with a stay in one of the many health retreats that can be found on the island. Around this fantastic opportunity, we created a recce trip to explore the Northern part of the island which has become an increasingly popular choice with our customers as well as to visit some hotels in the neighbouring Maldives.
Then of course we all heard the devastating news that Sri Lanka had been subject to an appalling terrorist attack. After checking that our friends and contacts were safe (thankfully they were) and re-routing or re-advising customers who were planning on travelling to Sri Lanka we found ourselves in a dilemma: do we continue with our plans to go or do we cancel?
The travel industry gets no more information than the rest of the public when it comes to Foreign Office (FCO) Advice. Sri Lanka has remained on Amber (“advise against all but essential travel”) since May, following the attack. Like you, we have no way of knowing when such restrictions may be lifted, nor the full background as to how the decision was made.
of the precise reasoning, the government clearly believes that there are
increased risks in travelling to Sri Lanka right now. One consequence of this
is that normal travel insurance won’t cover us to travel. However, fortunately
there are insurance companies who specialise in taking on these risks.
Of course, Sri Lanka have themselves stepped up security and tell us that they are open for business. They rely on tourism and are desperately trying to get back to some form of normality. But whilst the FCO advice remains in place, it is unlikely that UK residents will visit.
As a company, we would never encourage people to undertake activities that are outright dangerous or unsafe or downplay any element of risk. Indeed, everyone has a different comfort zone and attitude to risk and that is something we are mindful of in every holiday that we plan, irrelevant of the destination.
However, for Mark Bratt Travel, we felt it was important to continue the trip. Given the nature of our business and our relationship with Sri Lanka we believe that we have made the right decision to continue with our plan to travel to Sri Lanka. In part, it is to help show support for a country we have fallen in love with at a time when (understandably) much of the travel industry has had to suspend their operations there. But it’s also for us to be able to report back first-hand what the experience is currently like on the ground – something that is incredibly difficult to do without first-hand knowledge.
We must stress that we have taken out additional insurances, catered for potentially longer journey times and have been monitoring the situation on the ground extremely closely. Scott is excited about his visit but is more apprehensive than usual and for us, this remains a research-gathering trip and not a holiday.
Scott will be active across our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds so do look out for his posts and feel free to ask any questions you have in relation to travelling to Sri Lanka at this time – the rest of Mark Bratt Travel will be as eager to find out as you are.
– Scott, Ruth, Mark and Phoebe
Mark Bratt Travel Ltd