Our destinations are like our children – it’s impossible to pick a favourite. But we can’t deny that Sri Lanka holds a special place in our hearts. After all, it’s the birthplace of ETG, our spiritual home.
We aren’t know-it-alls, but we do know just how much this beautiful island nation rewards travellers of every kind (it’s no exaggeration that this emerald isle has something for everyone). We also know just how much these travellers reward Sri Lanka and its people’s livelihoods in return. Plus, we know that Sri Lanka is a safe place to visit – arguably one of the safest countries for tourists in Asia – but you wouldn’t guess this by looking at the current Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice on the UK Government website.
So, we’re spearheading a campaign to have this advice reviewed and amended.
Press play on the video below of Sam talking through our campaign in more detail:
Why does the FCDO advice for Sri Lanka need to be reviewed?
It needs a rethink: not only is the guidance overcautious but it’s also based on out-of-date information (like the anti-government protests and fuel shortages that took place back in early 2022). It simply doesn’t portray Sri Lanka fairly or give accurate, up-to-date advice to British travellers.
What are the broader issues?
We’ve noticed that this issue isn’t only the case for Sri Lanka – the FCDO is currently providing out-of-date advice for other countries, too (the majority of which are small countries). Not only does this unfairly diminish the tourist industry in these countries (a serious matter in itself), but it also undermines British citizens’ confidence in FCDO advice as a whole. We are calling on ministers to reform the FCDO’s approach from the bottom up (to ensure consistency among countries and continents) so that tourist industries and travellers can place their trust in the advice once again.
Who’s joined forces with us on this campaign?
Over 35 politicians, journalists and well-known Sri Lankan personalities – The Rt. Hon. the Lord Naseby PC (Founder and Joint Chair of All Party Sri Lankan APPG), Malik Fernando (Sri Lankan Tourism Alliance), Richard Nuttall (CEO, Sri Lankan Airlines), Kumar Sangakkara (Former Captain of Sri Lankan Cricket Team, MCC President) and Mahela Jayawardene (Former Captain of Sri Lankan Cricket Team) to name a few – are backing our campaign. They have joined forces with us to support Sri Lanka’s tourist industry and signed an open letter to challenge the FCDO advice (below).
MISLEADING GOVERNMENT TRAVEL ADVICE DAMAGING TOURISM
The tourism industry in Sri Lanka currently employs over 488,000 people and is anticipated to boost by 1.6 per cent each year until it reaches over one million by 2028. One-in-five people in Sri Lanka rely on income generated by tourism to the country. The island’s ancient temples, beaches, lush tropical scenery, and sheer variety of wildlife is extraordinary. There is perhaps no other country on earth with such complex biodiversity and cultural riches per square mile.
Yet the UK government is systematically undermining the travel industry there, by retaining outdated and overly harsh travel advice which deters British citizens from visiting.
Neighbouring countries benefit from more generous advice despite having more instances of British nationals being exposed to danger.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) says it has recently revised Sri Lanka guidance. But the changes are synthetic and inadequate as officials persist in drawing attention to protests and violent unrest which have long since ceased.
In fact, the whole system of FCDO advice appears to be inconsistent with most of Europe and North America escaping serious warnings, despite incidents of rioting, political unrest, and violent crime.
These anomalies serve not only to diminish one country’s tourist industry but to undermine confidence in FCDO advice as a whole.
We are calling on ministers to reform the FCDO’s approach from the bottom up. A new approach should ensure there is consistency so tourist industries and travellers alike can place their trust in the advice once again.
Sam Clark, Experience Travel Group
The Rt. Hon. the Lord Naseby PC, Founder and Joint Chair of All Party Sri Lankan APPG
Kumar Sangakkara, Former Captain of Sri Lankan Cricket Team, MCC President
Mahela Jayawardene, Former Captain of Sri Lankan Cricket Team
Chris Rowles, Chairman, AITO (The Specialist Travel Association)
Nishad Wijetunga, President, SLAITO (Sri Lankan Association of Inbound Tour Operators)
Richard Nuttall, CEO, Sri Lankan Airlines
Malik Fernando, Chair, Sri Lanka Tourism Alliance
Karan Gokani, Co-founder and Director, Hoppers
Cecil Balmond OBE, Designer
John Gimlette, Author, Elephant Complex
Hiran Cooray, Chairman, Jetwing Symphony
Hashan Cooray, Director, Jetwing Hotels Ltd.
Mike Sedgwick MD FRCP, Physiological Society of Sri Lanka
Michael Bunston, Chairman at International Tea Committee Ltd
Nick Pulley, Founder & CEO, Selective Asia
Andrew Hunt, Founder and CEO, Holiday Architects
Martin Garland, Director, Expression Holidays
Jonny Bealby, CEO, Wild Frontiers
Henry Fitch, CEO, Teardrop Hotels
Neil Dobbs, MD, Travel Gallery
Farzana Dobbs, Owner, Rosyth Estate House
Leanne Bonner-Coooke MBE, Entrepreneur, Former CEO of e-Bate Limited
Maxime Wickramasinghe, Committee Member, SLAITO
Chandra Wickramasinghe, Chairman, Thema Collection
Tim Jacobson, Owner, Manor House Concepts
Chamali Fernando, Barrister
Tim Edwards, Owner, Gal Oya Lodge
Eleanor Miller, Director, Sri Lanka Collection
Alisdair Luxmoore, Director, Fleewinter
Justin Wateridge, CEO, Steppes Travel
Eleanor Milner, Director, Sri Lanka Collection
How can you get involved?
Please show your support by following the campaign and joining the conversation.
#ETG #FCDO #OPENLETTER #SRILANKAISSAFE