“The best news this year”; “fantastic”; “amazing”. It’s fair to say agents were happy at the news the UK had relaxed its travel advice for Sri Lanka.
It’s less than two months since the devastating terror attacks on 21 April that killed more than 250 people, but while the FCO is still warning terrorists “are very likely to carry out attacks” and that curfews are still in place in some areas, the decision to lift Sri Lanka’s travel ban is nevertheless a hugely positive step.
And not just for the UK travel industry that sends so many clients there. As Abercrombie & Kent’s managing director Kerry Golds pointed out: “Tourism is a big part of Sri Lanka’s economy.
The FCO update is only good news for the Sri Lankan people.” The impact this will have on a country where tourism brings in some $4 billion annually cannot be underestimated.
It wasn’t all positive news last week, though. On Tuesday, the Trump administration shocked the travel world by announcing a ban on cruise ships visiting Cuba – a decision with severe ramifications.
Cruise has become one of the most popular ways for Americans to travel to Cuba since the travel ban was lifted in 2016, and Clia estimates some 800,000 cruise passengers will be affected.
Of course, not all of them will be Americans – Brits who had been booked on US cruises with Cuba calls will also be penalised as lines rush to amend their itineraries.
The US’s move is due to Cuba’s support for the regime of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro. But using travel as a political tool is a dangerous – and unjust – game.
Taking a destination off the tourist map for the safety of your citizens is one thing. Doing it for political game-playing is another.
As ever, it will be the people – particularly locals in resorts that rely on tourism – who will suffer most.