UK, Australia travel advisories for Sri Lanka

Female tourist deported because she had Buddha tattoo

Sri Lanka’s travel trade is not happy with travel advisories issued by the UK and Australia. The UK released an advisory yesterday after a female tourist was arrested because she had a Buddha tattoo and was ordered to be deported.

“The mistreatment of Buddhist images and artefacts is a serious offence and tourists have been convicted for this,” warned the advisory. “British nationals have been refused entry to Sri Lanka or faced deportation for having visible tattoos of Buddha.”

The advisory also said there had been reports of drinks being spiked with drugs in bars and restaurants in southern beach resorts.

Australia’s travel advisory, released on April 9, urged visitors to “exercise a high degree of caution in Sri Lanka at this time because of the unpredictable security environment.” It advised its citizens to avoid political rallies in Sri Lanka that could turn violent.

No overseas queries or cancellations have been reported as a result of the travel warnings, but the local trade is concerned.

“Anything negative about a country puts that country in a vulnerable position. In that context these advisories don’t help,” Vasantha Leenananda, head of DMC at John Keells Holdings, said.

TTG Asia

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