A spokesperson for Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Tourism has described the Foreign Office’s decision to advise against all but essential travel to the country “a huge blow” and “premature”.
The FCO updated its advice for travel to the country on Thursday (25 April) following the Easter Sunday bombings in and around capital Colombo, which killed more than 250 people.
A spokesperson for Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Tourism, Development and Christian Religious Affairs told TTG: “[The advice change] will be a huge blow.
“Sri Lanka was declared as the number-one destination to visit in 2019 by Lonely Planet and many other influential travel publications.
“The UK travel advice seems premature given that terrorist attacks have taken place even in London, Paris, New York, Frankfurt, etc, and is now a global phenomenon.”
The spokesperson continued: “With its history of effectively dealing with terrorism, Sri Lanka is actually better prepared to deal with the issue than many other countries.
"The immediate measures that were taken have resulted in the arrest of 70 individuals as at date who are suspected of being involvement in the attacks.
“The government is confident of rounding up every suspect and completely neutralising the threat of terrorism in the next few days or few weeks at the most.
“The country’s tourism industry is open for business and is looking forward to welcome tourists.”
Elsewhere, the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau held a press conference at Arabian Travel Market in Dubai this week. It confirmed 210 Sri Lankans and 40 foreign nationals were killed.
Kishu Gomes, chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Bureau, said: “Once again, I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to everybody touched by these callous acts.
“Sri Lanka Tourism would like to reassure its travel partners here at ATM and moreover, visitors from around the world, that the safety of every Sri Lankan and overseas tourist is now the government’s highest priority.
“The Sri Lankan police, along with the full force of the national tri forces have jointly implemented comprehensive new security protocols to ensure their safety across the island.
“The curfews declared after the attacks were a necessary and an immediate response, however the situation is expected to return to normal soon.
“Sri Lanka is working closely with overseas governments to support their foreign nationals while in Sri Lanka.
“Sri Lankan tourism, with the determination of its people, will recover from this tragedy, with the help and support of our friends in the global travel and tourism industry.”