THE UK, Australia and Canada have issued travel advisories this week to caution citizens visiting Sri Lanka of potential election violence at the upcoming presidential poll on January 8.
“Political rallies and election campaigns in Sri Lanka have occasionally turned violent. Travellers should avoid any political gatherings or rallies,” the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in its advisory.
However, Sri Lankan travel industry members said large-scale violence is unlikely and that business for the traditional peak season is looking good.
“These are routine advisories issued ahead of any election. Bookings are great (for December) and I don’t expect any election violence deterring arrivals,” said Hiran Cooray, president of the Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka.
Rumy Jauffer, managing director of the state-run Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, told TTG Asia e-Daily that arrivals would reach the targeted 1.5 million this year, with China closing in on the UK’s position as the second-largest source market, after India.
“Chinese arrivals have been showing triple-digit growth for the past few months,” he said.
Furthermore, India and China don't issue travel advisories like their western counterparts.
According to the latest data for January-November 2014, Indian, UK and Chinese arrivals rose 16.3 per cent, 4.9 per cent and 137.6 per cent respectively year-on-year.