Sri Lanka

German tour operators return as Berlin eases travel warning

Galle fort is a popular tourist attraction on Sri Lanka.
Galle fort is a popular tourist attraction on Sri Lanka.

Tour operators in Germany are starting to offer Sri Lanka holidays again after Berlin scaled back its previous warning against travelling to the South Asian island.

The German foreign ministry has updated its travel advice for Sri Lanka and no longer advises against any trips to the island that are not absolutely necessary. Instead, Berlin says that public order has been restored.

However, the ministry still advises holidaymakers to take particular care, including avoiding public places, and to monitor the local news and stay in close contact with tour operators and airlines.

Tour operators responded quickly to the updated information and are starting to offer trips to the island again. DER Touristik said it would resume holidays on Sri Lanka from July 1 onwards.

Thomas Cook had offered all guests with travel dates up to June 30 the option of a free cancellation or re-booking, and thus has no customers for the island in June. From July 1 onwards “the usual travel and payment conditions will apply until further notice”, the tour operator said.

TUI will definitely offer holidays on Sri Lanka from July 1 onwards. The company is currently checking with its local tour representatives whether its programme can be resumed earlier than this date.

The situation is slightly different at FTI, which continued to offer bookings for the island. Guests with a departure date up to June 30 can still re-book free of charge to a different destination in the network of the airline they are flying with. If the customer is not satisfied with this option, then he or she can switch their booking free of charge to a different destination from the FTI Group portfolio.

Cultural holidays specialist Studiosus, which had cancelled all holidays in Sri Lanka until August 15, will resume tours on the island from August 19. “Based on current information, we expect that we can conduct these tours as planned,” it said.

German tour operators had cancelled all holidays in Sri Lanka after Berlin officially warned in April against travelling to the island following the devastating terror attacks on Easter Sunday and amid fears of follow-up attacks.

The attack has hit Sri Lanka’s tourism industry hard just as the island was celebrating a strong comeback over the last five years. The country saw an 84% rise in German visitor numbers to 157,000 from 2013 to 2018, including a 20% increase last year, according to the fvw Destination Ranking 2019.

Overall, Sri Lanka enjoyed an 83% surge to more than 2.3 million international tourists as holidaymakers regained confidence in the destination after the civil war a decade ago.