FCO rescinds Sri Lanka travel warning

FCO rescinds Sri Lanka travel warning

The British Foreign & Commonwealth Office has lifted the remaining travel warnings against visits to Sri Lanka.

The decision follows a recent security assessment led by deputy high commissioner Mark Gooding, who visited the Northern provinces of the country in June.

This is the first time in almost 30 years all warnings against travel to the country have been removed.

However, the FCO continues to urge caution.

“Isolated attacks cannot be ruled out and could be indiscriminate. Foreign tourists and visitors have not been targeted in the past but attacks have occurred in places frequented by foreigners”, read a recent statement.

Despite the ongoing risks, Sri Lanka has seen a near 50 per cent increase in total visitor numbers this year. Of the 279,000 tourists so far this year, nearly 45,000 came from the UK.

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The Foreign Office also warns travellers to gain permission from the Sri Lankan ministry of defence before travelling to the northern districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Mullaittivu and Vavuniya.

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In response to the latest developments a Sri Lankan government spokesman said: “This decision marks yet another indication of the return to a state of peace in Sri Lanka following the end of our 30 year war against terrorism.

“The Sri Lankan Government has undertaken a range of actions since the end of the conflict including the scaling back of emergency regulations as well as tailored development initiatives specifically targeting the north of the island, to ensure security, normality and prosperity return to these beautiful regions of our island as soon as possible.”

The Sri Lankan government claimed victory over the Tamil Tiger separatist army in May last year.

Since this time the government has been seeking to reintegrate the north of the island into the national community, while simultaneously seeking to boost its reputation abroad.

Efforts received a boost earlier this week when the UNESCO World Heritage committee recognised the natural significance of the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka.

“Britons wishing to travel to the north should be aware that there remains a risk from mines and unexploded ordinance and that they need to obtain permission from the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence before they travel,” a UK a High Commission statement added.