Foreigners banned from northern Sri Lanka

Operators describe it as a worrying development

Sri Lanka has introduced new rules banning foreigners from visiting the former war zone in the north of the country, unless they secure permission first, TTG Digital reports.

Tourists wanting to visit the region will now have to obtain prior approval, the country’s defence ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. Permits are needed, it said, to prevent “negative interventions”. Insiders describe it as a “worrying development” for the tourist industry in the country.

Sri Lanka specialists Experience Travel said it hoped to be able to obtain permits for holidaymakers booked on its tours in the north without difficulty.

“We are trying to establish with the government whether this is a temporary change around the president’s recent visit to open Jaffna train station, or whether there is a more lasting plan to reintroduce permits to travel to the north,” the company’s Sam Clark told newspaper The Telegraph.

“We had a large group in Jaffna just last month and our local partners are telling us that we should face no issues at all in getting travel permits for the clients we have visiting the area over the next few months. We believe that free and open travel is the best route to reconciliation and rebuilding.”

In March, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted to investigate allegations that the military killed 40,000 civilians in the final months of the separatist war that ended in 2009. But in August the country’s president refused visas for UN investigators.

The Telegraph / TTG Digital

[pictured: Tea plantation in Sri Lanka; photo by Anjadora]

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