Yala National Park in the south of the Island and most of the eastern coastal belt has been opened up to tourists less than two months after countrywide peace was declared.
On July 7, The British High Commissioner, Dr Peter Hayes, stated: “I am pleased to announce that we have relaxed the restrictions on travel suggested in the advice we give to British visitors coming to Sri Lanka.
“We’ve taken this decision based on our assessment of the improving security situation in these parts of Sri Lanka.”
The policy update has come with the return of the international Champion of Champions’ Pro Surf Tour to Arugam Bay in the East coast of Sri Lanka.
The week long event – featuring top professional surfers from the UK, international stars and local Sri Lankan surfers – has returned to Arugam Bay after a two year break.
The FCO announcement follows the declaration of peace on May 19, 2009, after 30 years of conflict.
Excerpts from President’s speech here.
Travel restrictions have been relaxed to the following eastern areas:
- Trincomalee Town, including the A6 road corridor to Trincomalee;
- Block One of Yala National Park;
- Areas of Ampara District south of the A4 road, including Arugam Bay;
- Areas of Ampara District, west of the A25 and A27 roads.
On hearing of the announcement, Sanjika Perera, director of Sri Lanka Tourism in the UK and Ireland, said, “We are delighted that the FCO have taken action so swiftly.
“This decision is hugely significant for our plans to redevelop the east coast of our island.
“For example, Yala has been off-limits to UK tourists for many years and it will be a great addition for those who want to spot excellent wildlife, including leopards.”
Yala National Park contains the highest density of leopards worldwide and is an important addition to Sri Lanka’s already exciting wildlife.
There are 12 other national parks and 100 protected areas of flora and fauna in Sri Lanka. Amongst the wildlife are Asian elephants, monkeys, and 250 species of birds. Of the profuse wildlife in Sri Lanka, 74 varieties of Orchid are unique to the island.