Honeymooners make new plans after Foreign Office changes Sri Lanka advice
A host of engaged couples have been left scrambling to make new honeymoon plans after the Foreign Office advised against non-essential travel to Sri Lanka.
Around 250 people were killed in the Easter Bombings in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa, and terrorists are “very likely” to attack again, according to the updated Government advice.
Holidaymakers who have booked to travel to the country are now being urged to contact airlines, tour operators and insurers for more information.
With Sri Lanka a popular honeymoon destination, many couples, who had booked for post-wedding holidays in the coming weeks, have been forced to make alternative arrangements.
Abigail McKie, a specialist support worker from Doncaster, was due to travel to the country for a honeymoon in June with her fiance Alisdair Smith, but they are facing the prospect of rearranging the entire trip.
“I’ve cried quite a few times already,” she said. “It’s so frustrating. We’ve booked our train tickets and we’ve got our visas. It’s all booked, it’s all paid for.”
The couple had saved up £5,000 for a tour of Sri Lanka, with stops including Colombo, Kandy and the country’s Cultural Triangle, with a particular focus on seeing wildlife.
“We’re quite adventurous and we don’t like staying in one place,” the 24-year-old said.
She said her travel agent is now advising the couple change the destination for the trip, which they had been planning for around a year.
“They’ve given us a few options like Borneo but to be honest we were so set on Sri Lanka,” she said.
Despite her frustration with the situation, she said she understood why the Foreign Office had changed its advice.
“They’re just trying to keep everyone safe and honestly my heart goes out to anyone that’s out there already or that was meant to be going sooner than we are,” she said.
“They’ve probably done the right thing but it’s hard to take.”
Amy Goodman, a doctor from Armagh, Northern IReland, had been due to stay at Colombo’s Cinnamon Grand hotel, one of the sites that was hit in the bombings, with her fiance Ross Kernan as part of their honeymoon in June.
They are now working with their travel agent to cut Sri Lanka out of their itinerary completely.
Ms Goodman, 27, said: “Just the thought that we could have been there… If you see the hotel you were meant to spend the first few weeks of your married life in blown to pieces, it just wouldn’t have felt right.
“It made us feel quite uneasy to go to another country where a government has stipulated that there is a threat and that there could be another attack at any time.”
Ms Goodman and her fiance had been planning the trip for over two years, and she had taken on extra shifts at the hospital where she works to pay for the holiday.
But she said they were “some of the lucky ones” as they were able to rearrange with a “manageable” surcharge, and that they had been planning on changing their plans even before the new Foreign Office advice.
She said: “It just wouldn’t have felt right – the eeriness, and of course the tragedy for the Sri Lankans as well, we felt we couldn’t do it.”
Travel trade organisation Abta said those booked to travel on a package holiday “imminently” would be offered the chance to postpone their trip, rearrange to an alternative destination or receive a refund.
Those who booked flights and accommodation separately were advised to talk to the individual companies or check with their insurers.