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With TUI cancelling all holidays to Sri Lanka departing up to and including May 31, 2022, many holidaymakers will be frantically looking for answers if they’ve already booked their flights. It comes as the Foreign Office updated its travel advice for Sri Lanka, urging Brits not to go to the country unless it’s absolutely necessary.
The change in advice comes after protests have been taking place across Sri Lanka as the country faces an economic crisis. It includes shortages of medicines, fuel and food. Locals are also suffering from power cuts every day due to electricity rationing.
Protests have also been happening since March 31, while a state of emergency has been declared in May, alongside an island-wide curfew. Violence against those peacefully protesting in recent days has prompted the Foreign Office to update its travel advice to warn UK travellers not to travel unless they have an essential reason.
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But what should you do if you’ve already booked flights to the country? Here at Manchester Evening News, we’ve done some digging and this is what we found.
What has TUI said?
TUI has released a statement regarding the decision to stop all flights to Sri Lanka. A spokesperson wrote: “Due to the ongoing political and economic instability in Sri Lanka, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has advised against all but essential travel.
“As a result, we’ve unfortunately had to cancel all holidays to Sri Lanka departing up to and including 31 May 2022. We will be proactively contacting all impacted customers in departure date order to discuss their options.
“Please note this advice does not apply to customers transiting through Sri Lanka’s international airport and customers currently in resort can continue to enjoy their holiday as planned. We will continue to monitor the situation and update customers should there be any further updates. We would like to thank our customers for their understanding at this time.”
The Foreign Office warns that “several incidents took place on 9 May involving violence against peaceful protesters” including areas in Colombo and Kandy, and that “further incidents could take place.”
What if I’ve booked flights?
If you have booked your flights and hotel separately, you’ll need to get in touch with your airline and accommodation directly. As flights to Sri Lanka aren’t banned, it could be that your flight is still scheduled to go ahead – in which case receiving a refund isn’t guaranteed.
In this case, you may need to compromise such as accepting vouchers, rebooking to a later date, or switching flights to a different destination (although you may need to pay a difference in fare if this applies). As for your accommodation, this will depend on the terms and conditions of your booking policy – again, you may need to compromise with a rebooking instead of a refund.
It’s worth noting that if you choose to travel against Foreign Office advice, your travel insurance will be void – so if anything goes wrong such as lost luggage or illness, you could end up facing some hefty bills.
Is there anything else I should know?
If you have a holiday or trip booked to Sri Lanka, you’ll need to get in touch with your tour operator and airline directly. When the Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel, travel firms such as TUI will usually cancel any trips they are operating and offer customers options such as rebooking to a later date, or receiving a full refund.
They may also offer you an alternative holiday for the same dates you were due to travel on, which you can also choose if you wish.
For more information about the situation in Sri Lanka and expanded travel advice, visit gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/sri-lanka.