UAE issues fresh travel ban on Sri Lanka

Wednesday, 23 October 2019 03:38 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Sri Lanka Tourism denies negative impact from election campaigns
  • Appeals to foreign missions and governments to make decisions based on ground events rather than speculations
  • Emirates Chief Tim Clark arrives today for THASL AGM

By Charumini de Silva

The United Arab Emirates has on Sunday issued a warning to UAE citizens against travelling to Sri Lanka, following the current events taking place in the country. 

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation (MoFAIC) urged Emiratis currently in Sri Lanka to exercise caution, to return back to the UAE.

The UAE Embassy in Colombo in its official Twitter account also on Sunday said: “UAE nationals should not travel to Sri Lanka except in extreme cases. In the event of an emergency, citizens should call the embassy on +94 112-301-601 or contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation’s call centre on +971 800-444-44.”

Ironically, the travel warning comes midst Emirates Airlines Chairman Tim Clark visiting Sri Lanka to address The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka’s Annual General Meeting today as the Chief Guest.

When contacted, Sri Lanka Tourism denied that the county was facing any event of emergency due to the upcoming Presidential Election next month, and assured that life for tourists in the country was very normal.

“There is absolutely no negative impact from the election campaigns for the tourism industry. So far election campaigns in the country had been peaceful. There is no reason to be panicked and respond in this manner,” Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) Chairman Kishu Gomes told the Daily FT.

Gomes appealed to all the foreign missions in Sri Lanka and governments across the world to make decisions based on ground events rather than on speculations.

Sri Lanka received 2,833 tourists from the UAE during the first nine months, a sharp drop of 37.5% year-on-year (YoY), the official arrival statistics by Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) showed.

In the early part of this year arrivals from UAE showed a sharp growth; 346 in January, 271 in February, 590 in March and 479 in April. Following post-Easter Sunday attacks the arrival numbers from UAE dropped to just 17 in May. During the months of June, July and August tourist arrivals gradually picked up to 130, 423 and 439 respectively. However, ending the three-month recovery streak that followed Easter Sunday attacks in September, an unexpected dip in arrival numbers were seen with 279.

Tourist arrivals in the first nine months of the year fell 20.5% year-on-year to 1.37 million, and the largest source market for tourists in September was India, followed by China and the United Kingdom.