UK travellers in Sri Lanka or with future bookings are being urged to contact their airline, tour operator and insurer after the Foreign Office advised against all but essential travel to the island.
Travel trade organisation Abta said customers due to travel to the island “imminently” for a package holiday would be offered a postponement, a full refund or a holiday in an alternative destination.
But anyone who booked their flights and accommodation separately will need to discuss their options with the individual companies.
Holidaymakers with travel insurance may be able to claim for losses depending on the terms of their policy.
An estimated 8,000 British tourists are in Sri Lanka.
— Foreign Office 🇬🇧 (@foreignoffice) April 25, 2019
The Foreign Office urged them to keep a low profile, avoid crowded public places and remain vigilant.
It is not yet known if travel companies will make special arrangements to bring travellers back to the UK earlier than planned.
Colombo Airport is continuing to operate but with increased security checks and long queues.
It is unlikely there will be a repeat of the major airlift which was organised when commercial flights to and from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh Airport were banned in November 2015.
A spokeswoman for tour operator Tui said: “We have started to contact customers in resort and those who are due to travel in the next seven days to discuss changes to travel arrangements.
“The safety and security of our customers and staff remains our highest priority.”
The Association of British Insurers said people booked to travel to Sri Lanka should contact their travel agent, tour operator, airline or other travel provider.
It said: “Travel insurance is designed to cover unforeseen events like this. Cancellation cover under your travel insurance should cover additional costs that cannot be refunded by your travel provider.
“If you are currently in Sri Lanka and want to curtail your visit and return early, your travel insurance should cover any extra costs associated with rearranging return flights. Check if you have the necessary cover in place or speak to your travel insurer.”
Flight Centre said it was actively contacting anyone in Sri Lanka or about to travel and will continue to offer full refunds to affected customers.
— ABI (@BritishInsurers) April 25, 2019
Lloyd Kane, managing partner at Rickshaw Travel said: “We are in close touch with our customers in Sri Lanka, as well as our local partners on the ground who are doing everything they can to reassure them and adapt their travel plans if needed.
“We are closely following the FCO for the most up-to-date travel information, and are contacting customers who have a Sri Lanka trip planned or pending to advise and support them.”
The Foreign Office travel advice is likely to have a major impact on Sri Lanka’s tourism industry.
Annual tourism visits to the island have increased from fewer than half a million in 2009 to a record high of more than two million in 2017.