ABTA has issued a statement for travellers following the Easter weekend bombings in Sri Lanka.
The association said: “ABTA members are in close contact with customers currently in Sri Lanka, and are offering any support or assistance they may need. Travellers in the region are advised to monitor news reports, follow any advice or instructions issued by the local authorities or their travel companies.
“Travellers currently in Sri Lanka, and those due to travel imminently, are also advised to check the Foreign Office advice for updates.
“While the Foreign Office hasn’t put any travel restrictions to Sri Lanka in place, meaning normal booking conditions would apply if customers no longer wish to travel, travel companies’ policies will vary, depending on specific circumstances. Some ABTA members are offering customers who are due to travel imminently the opportunity to change their booking, should they wish to do so. Travellers should contact their travel company to discuss their cancellation policies, and the options available.
“If you have booked all of your travel arrangements separately and you no longer wish to travel, you should speak to the individual companies about their cancellation policies.”
The advice comes after Sri Lanka was rocked by a series of bombings at churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday. The official death toll has today risen to 310, with at least 31 foreigners among the dead. Fourteen remain unaccounted for.
The government says a relatively unknown jihadist group is behind the attacks. Police have made a number of arrests.
The attacks are the deadliest act of violence in Sri Lanka since the civil war ended in 2009 after 26 years of fighting.
Tourism to Sri Lanka has risen dramatically in the decade since the conflict ended, from 447,890 in 2009 to an all-time high of 2.1 million in 2018. There has been huge investment in transport links, new hotels and touristic activities. Lonely Planet named the south-Asian island the best country in the world to visit in 2019.
Tour operator Wendy Wu has reassured the trade that all guests in the region are accounted for. It currently has one tour group in Sri Lanka and three tailor-made bookings. Global sales director John Warr said: “We’re extremely thankful no one on our tour or any of our tailor-made passengers were affected, and our ground staff are all safe and sound.
“When talking to members of the tour at the weekend they were all in good spirits and thankful for the immediate support Wendy Wu Tours offered and provided.
“Right now our thoughts and prayers go out to victims and the people of Sri Lanka.”