I recently returned from the stunning island nation after spending a week exploring the eastern part of the country on an invitation from SriLankan Airlines. This post will highlight ground realities and give you insights into the current travel scenario. It will guide you on how to plan your trip to Sri Lanka in 2022 and what needs to be kept in mind before planning your trip.
It is no secret that Sri Lanka is going through the worst economic crisis right now. Whether it is a fuel shortage, power-cut, or a high inflation rate, the country is facing a tough time. Since the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, followed by the COVID situation and now the economic crisis, Sri Lanka has been suffering tremendously. Tourism being the backbone of their economy is badly hit.
However, despite the current situation, the locals are doing their best to cope with the situation and thriving by adopting sustainable ways of living. They are the bravest, peace-loving, and warm people who are ready to open their doors and arms to welcome tourists amidst this crisis. Sri Lanka is trying its best to encourage tourists to visit the country. Because this is the only way they can earn foreign currency these days.
WHY IS SRI LANKA MAKING TOURISM ITS TOP PRIORITY NOW?
Sri Lanka is one of the most celebrated destinations in the world. The spectacular island nation has a lot to offer. Whether you are a beach person, a heritage lover, a spiritual seeker, a mountaineer, or someone who endorses slow travel, Sri Lanka has it all. From top-notch beach destinations, captivating hill stations, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, uncountable religious places, or exotic wildlife for adventure junkies, this country can sway you with its myriad charm.
Sri Lanka flourishes on tourism. More than 10% of GDP comes from tourism in Sri Lanka and it is the third-largest source of foreign exchange. In 2019, Lonely Planet named Sri Lanka the world’s number one travel destination. But the irony is that the country has been going through lows since then.
Tourism is one of the major sources of foreign currency flow to the country which has slowed down or almost stopped. Moreover, constant headlines on the international media about the current situation have contributed immensely to creating a particular image for international travelers. Tourists are avoiding the idea of traveling to Sri Lanka for obvious reasons.
However, tourism is the only way to get foreign currency to Sri Lanka now. It will not just boost their economy, but also give a ray of hope to the locals. Whether it is the transportation sector, restaurants, cafes, homestay owners, souvenir shops, or adventure activities, the tourist’s contributions have multifold effects.
Henceforth, in the face of financial and political chaos, Sri Lanka has put tourism on top priority. There have been arrangements for tourists so that they get the best travel experience in Sri Lanka. The local tour operators are on their toes to make travel experiences as smooth as possible for international tourists.
Nevertheless, it is imperative to be hesitant about traveling to Sri Lanka. However, if your transportation is arranged in Sri Lanka, you won’t have to worry about buying your tickets. Moreover, the drastic drop of LKR against USD and INR makes things affordable for all kinds of travelers now in Sri Lanka.
The best way to help Sri Lanka at this point as a traveler is to plan your trip with a local DMC or tour operator. The exchange of foreign currency would help them tremendously. Each foreign currency counts presently.
GROUND REALITIES OF SRI LANKA RIGHT NOW
Having traveled to Sri Lanka during the economic crisis of 2022, I have my own perspective on the situation. The ground realities are not mirrored as it is shown in the media. However, certain facts cannot be ruled out. I present the ground realities in Sri Lanka from my perspective.
PROTESTS IN SRILANKA
Peaceful protests are going on in Colombo and other major cities. The citizens have come out on the streets to showcase their frustration and demand a new government to bring back the country on track. However, the best part about these protests is that they are not disruptive. The protests are conducted peacefully. So, if you are planning to travel to Sri Lanka now, they are in no way meant to dampen your holiday in Sri Lanka.
SAFETY IN SRILANKA
It is safe to travel to Sri Lanka. I was freely wandering around the Galle Face Green road, where peaceful protests were taking place. I did not feel unsafe one bit. In other words, if you travel outside Colombo, you won’t feel anything at all.
INFLATION IN SRILANKA
The inflation rate is sky-high, and it is affecting immensely the daily lives of locals in Sri Lanka. Everything is awfully expensive. The poor section of society has found it quite challenging to go about their daily lives because the necessities have become increasingly expensive.
Despite that, the locals are resilient and trying their best to adopt sustainable ways to run their lives. Like instead of using a gas stove, they have started cooking on wood fire stoves, instead of using cars they are using cycles to cover a certain distance when needed, picking home-grown vegetables from their kitchen garden, etc.
In hindsight, the LKR (Sri Lankan Rupees) has dropped distinctly against Indian rupees and Dollars. It has made everything quite affordable for Indian tourists. Therefore, as a tourist, you won’t feel anything about the price hike, especially for Indians and Americans.
TRANSPORTATION IN SRI LANKA
The shortage of fuel and gas has resulted in long queues all over Sri Lanka. Sometimes the queue stretches more than 1 km on the road. Currently, the fuel shortage in Sri Lanka is a concern. Tourists’ vehicles, however, have the privilege of getting fuel on time without being placed in a queue so that your holiday experience on the island is not disrupted.
POWER-CUT IN SRILANKA
There is a power cut daily in the country. In the past, the power cut would last for more than 8 hours a day but now it is reduced to 2 to 3 hours. Five-star hotels are running it with power backup. The hotels have switched off unnecessary lights on the premises. If you are staying at a luxury property, you will not feel the power-cut situation.
SHOPPING MALLS AND RESTAURANTS IN SRI LANKA
I visited two shopping malls in Colombo. The urban life there seems normal. People are shopping, even though the rates are quite expensive for the locals.
Similarly, the restaurants are open and crowded. A lot of people are out there and enjoying themselves with friends and families. The locals are also occupying the departmental stores.
HOTELS IN SRI LANKA
Some of the hotels are giving up to 50% discounts, making it quite affordable for international tourists. The rates have fallen drastically in luxury boutiques and Five-star hotels, especially for Indian tourists. In other words, check the hotel rates online before booking. If you are planning a trip to Sri Lanka, this is an ideal time since the Indian Rupee has become quite strong against the LKR.
WHY DID I TRAVEL TO SRI LANKA AMIDST THE ECONOMIC CRISIS?
Is it safe to travel to Sri Lanka?
Why are you traveling to Sri Lanka?
I was bombarded with these questions by family and friends when I informed them about my trip to Sri Lanka. Being a travel blogger, I feel responsible enough to showcase the actual picture of any destination I travel to. Moreover, my job is not just to paint your imagination with picture-perfect images, I must present a real travel scenario as well. So, when I got a rare chance to travel to Sri Lanka amidst the economic crisis, I immediately grabbed the opportunity to visit and experience it in real-time. Why should I rely on the news delivered to me?
I should represent the other side of the story as a responsible voice. If I can help in spreading the right impression about Sri Lanka, why shouldn’t I travel to our neighboring country?
I must confess that traveling to Sri Lanka during this crisis was the right decision I had taken. In addition to having an unforgettable trip, I was also introduced to the country’s rich cultural heritage. Moreover, while on a road trip in Sri Lanka, I had the first-hand experience of seeing how the locals are living a sustainable life by adopting various effective means to survive the chaos.
HOW TO PLAN YOUR TRIP TO SR LANKA IN 2022? CONSULT A REPUTED LOCAL DMC OR TOUR OPERATOR
In light of the current situation in Sri Lanka, I recommend consulting a local DMC or a local travel agent before planning your trip. It would be hassle-free. Everything related to your trip will be handled by them. Whether you are a high-end or budget traveler, Sri Lanka has something for you. Fuel shortages, however, limit solo budget travelers’ ability to use public transportation independently.
Therefore, it is highly recommended that you plan your trip to Sri Lanka in 2022 meticulously. Before sketching your travel itinerary, route, province, and accommodation in Sri Lanka consult with a local tour operator. It helps immensely to plan everything in advance. It is currently only possible to visit the island nation with the help of a tour operator.
ESSENTIAL TRAVEL TIPS FOR SRI LANKA IN 2022
Sri Lanka known as the ‘pearl’ of the Indian Ocean, is a paradise for travelers across the globe. Times have changed due to the current state of affairs in the country. It requires scrupulous planning before booking your tickets to Sri Lanka. Here are some practical and essential travel tips for Sri Lanka 2022.
To start with, you need to have a fully vaccinated certificate to travel to Sri Lanka. So, make sure that your passport is updated with the vaccination details. You can link your passport with your vaccination certificate for hassle-free international travel.
Unlike other countries, you don’t need to queue up for a VISA ON ARRIVAL at Bandaranaike International Airport. You must apply for ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) for entering Sri Lanka. It takes less than 24 hours to obtain an ETA. You can get ETA by applying online. It is valid for 3 months with a maximum stay of up to 30 days.
Like any international destination, you need travel insurance to travel to Sri Lanka as well. It is highly recommended to have your travel insurance in place before packing your bags. Travel insurance is one of the top essentials a traveler must have to avoid any unforeseen circumstances.
Pre-booking your accommodation saves a lot of stress. So, don’t forget to book your accommodation before your trip. Due to the crisis in Sri Lanka, the five-star hotels are giving up to 50% discounts. It simply makes everything very affordable for tourists. Now, you can have a luxury travel experience at a very affordable price compared to earlier times.
Travel with a local DMC / Travel Agent
The role of a local tour operator and DMC has become increasingly significant. They are the ones who can help you with your travel arrangements. For your accommodation, ground arrangements, internal transportation, sightseeing, and getting the right information about the current ground realities in Sri Lanka, you should consult a resourceful and reputed tour operator to plan your trip to Sri Lanka.
Must have sufficient USD
Don’t forget to carry sufficient USD with you while traveling to Sri Lanka. You can exchange your currency into LKR at your hotels (Mostly Five-Star hotels) as well. It is always better to carry local currency to any destination and Sri Lanka is not an exception. Considering the current financial situation, it is highly recommended that you should exchange your currency either in your home country at the airport or hotel. This is before starting your trip to Sri Lanka.
Dress moderately during your temple visit
Follow travel etiquette when visiting sacred places in Sri Lanka. One should dress moderately during temple visit. Temples and Buddhist Stupas require both men and women to cover their shoulders and knees before entering. Just like in Thailand, one should follow the rules in the island nation as well.
Being a responsible and sensible traveler, you must adhere to the rules in a foreign land. You cannot wear a hat on the premises of their religious places. Also, avoid making noise at these religious places as you will find locals praying or chanting on the premises often. Make sure that you don’t hurt the sentiments of the people while visiting temples.
Also, do check with the authority before taking photos at sacred places.
After exploring this captivating country for the very first time, I must confess that Sri Lanka is undoubtedly one of the finest Asian countries and irresistible. The only regret I had was why I took so much time to visit a country that is located at the doorstep of my homeland. Sri Lanka needs all your support, warmth, and love at this juncture. I am hopeful that despite the odds, this amazing country will regain its glory and stand tall. It’s about time.
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