Is it okay to visit Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka is on the way out of the economic crisis that began in 2019, and prompted large protests throughout 2022. While plenty of problems remain, the situation is calm across most of the country, and vacations are up and running again. Youíll have a fantastic time among people who canít wait for tourists to return, and when you travel with a responsible tour operator you can be confident your trip will directly benefit local people.

Why are vacations to Sri Lanka so important?

Buddhist monks on Dambadeniya Maliga Gala, Sri Lanka. Photo credit: K. P. D. Madhuka (Unsplash)

Tourism accounts for a significant part of Sri Lankaís economy. The loss of visitors following the unrest has further deepened the countryís financial crisis. Now that the country is safe and stable again, itís vital that travelers return because tourism makes such a huge difference to so many communities and small businesses that depend on it.

In recent years tourism made up some 12 percent of Sri Lankaís GDP, so the fact that visitor numbers tumbled during the economic upheaval and protests of 2022 has been a disaster on top of a disaster.

What caused the Sri Lanka crisis in 2022?

When Sri Lankaís long civil war ended in 2009, it resulted in a period of peace and relative prosperity that saw the country become one of the most popular vacation destinations in the Indian Ocean. Small wonder, when in just a couple of weeks you can combine exploring the remnants of ancient kingdoms with admiring wild elephants in national parks and whales off the coast, hiking around the hill country and its tea plantations, and relaxing on wonderfully picturesque beaches.

But recent years have seen Sri Lankaís fortunes decline. First came the appalling Easter 2019 bombings, then the Covid-19 pandemic. The resulting slump in tourism led to a sharp drop in foreign currency receipts, which was a major contributor to the severe economic crisis that followed in 2019. People struggled to buy everyday essentials from fuel to medicine, and were also dealing with power cuts and food shortages, prompting a wave of protests and eventually the fall of the president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Is it safe in Sri Lanka now?

Sri Lanka is safe for visitors, and official travel advice from the British government is positive. While there are still sporadic protests, they are usually in the capital, Colombo, while the rest of the country is mostly calm.

Obviously, situations like this take time to resolve. Today Sri Lanka suffers from high inflation, as well as a weak currency and low foreign exchange reserves. Many people are struggling financially and itís difficult for them to buy the things they need even when they can afford them.

All of which means that responsible vacations in Sri Lanka can make a huge difference. When you travel with our partners youíll stay in small, locally owned hotels, be shown around places by guides who live there themselves, and eat in independent restaurants. More of your money stays in communities where itís really needed.

Itís going to take time for Sri Lanka to get back to where it was before 2019, but we can help by enjoying amazing vacations there. Which is what we like to call the win-win of responsible tourism.
Written by Rob Perkins