irked by Aussie travel advisory
Sri Lanka is to take up with Australia
issues relating to a travel advisory by the Canberra
government warning Australians against visiting Colombo
because of kidnappings for ransom of foreign nationals
and an increase in violent crime against foreigners.
The Australian Department of Foreign
Affairs asked its nationals to reconsider their need
to travel to Sri Lanka, not travel at all to the north
and east and, if they decide to travel, to exercise
It said violent crime against foreigners
continued to increase. This included sexual assault
and robbery at tourist sites with policing in remote
areas often hampered by lack of resources and poor infrastructure.
A Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry official
described the advisory as “extremely negative’
and said the issue would be taken up with the Canberra
The advice was issued in late August
and remains valid and questions are being raised as
to why the Foreign Ministry waited so long to take some
The Sri Lanka Tourist Board has pointed
out that most terrorist acts have taken place outside
tourist areas and have little or no effect on tourists.
“Sri Lanka has received over
five million tourists during the last decade and there
has not been a single incident targeting visitors,”
the Tourist Board said in a statement posted on its
An official pointed out that neither
the United States nor Britain had issued such tough
advisories on Sri Lanka even though they had warned
against travel to the north and east.
Between January and August this year,
a total of 17,390 Australians visited Sri Lanka, a marginal
drop from the 18,537 in 2005 but there are no reports
of any serious crimes committed against any of them
in Sri Lanka, the official said.
A tourist police official said they
seldom received complaints of serious crimes against
foreigners except for petty crimes such as pick-pocketing
“We carry out day and night
patrols along the beach and this is mainly to ensure
that the foreign tourists are protected from crime,”
he said. Repeated attempts to obtain officials comments
from the Australian High Commission on what sort of
intelligence the advisory is based and if the High Commission
has received complaints of sexual assault and ransom
against any of its citizens failed.An official of the
information section on Friday assured diplomatic officials
would call back with a comment but did not do so.