Travel companies are cutting prices to lure tourists back to Sri Lanka – here are the best deals

Travel companies are cutting prices to lure tourists back to Sri Lanka – here are the best deals

11 June 2019 10:56 pm

Now that Sri Lanka has been deemed safe for Britons to visit again, there are plenty of travel deals to be had.

Sri Lanka is back on the travel map

British holidaymakers are able to return to Sri Lanka after the Foreign Office (FCO) lifted its restrictions on travel to the country last week.

The Indian Ocean island had been out of bounds after the Easter Sunday bombings seven weeks ago that killed nearly 300 people. 

“Tourism is a big part of their economy so it is good news for the Sri Lankan people,” said Kerry Golds, managing director of tour operator Abercrombie & Kent.

“Sri Lanka is brimming with lush landscapes, ancient treasures and amazing people. Now is the time that they need our support.”

This time last year a daily average of 4,500 foreign visitors were holidaying in Sri Lanka, and the country has grown steadily in popularity since 2009. Currently, however, only 1,450 tourists are there, according to Reuters. Reservations for the next few months, too, remain tepid, with occupancy rates of around 10 per cent.

As a result, tour operators and hotels have been cutting prices in a bid to tempt travellers back to Sri Lanka, a country where tourism accounts for five per cent of it gross domestic product.

Why should I go?

Exotic wildlife, sacred caves, rainforest walks, scenic train routes, tea plantations, temples, Dutch colonial architecture, and a growing number of luxury hotels, are among the country’s draws. 

Writing for Telegraph Travel, Martin Fletcher described this country as “a singularly beautiful land of lush jungle and paddy fields, of misty hill country carpeted with the vivid green baize of manicured tea gardens, of white beaches and impossibly blue sea.”

“The bird-life is astonishing,” he added. “Hornbills, painted partridges, crested serpent eagles, racket-tailed drongos, kingfishers, bee-eaters and brahminy kites, to name a few. So are the animals – crocodiles, leopards, wild boar, monkeys, mongooses, snakes and elephants.”

The best deals

Cheap flights

Sri Lankan Airlines (srilankan.com) is offering special fares to Colombo from £100 one-way, with a minimum stay of five days for trips booked before June 30. Emirates is offering flights from around £500 return, with a stop in Dubai.

Family villa

The Sri Lanka Collection (srilankacollection.com; +94 (0) 91 222 7599) has cut rates by 50 per cent for a stay at Why House, a ten-bedroom three-star villa close to Galle’s picture postcard beaches spread between three elegant buildings and a pair of cabanas, amidst a lush three-acre garden. Rates vary according to number of guests; see here. This offer is valid for a minimum of two nights on a B&B basis until the end of August. Book through exceptional-travel.com.

Boutique lodges

Wilde & Co (wilde-and-co; +94 (0) 76 640 4373) boasts a portfolio of five charming properties across the island and is currently offering 30 per cent off their advertised room rates for stays of two nights or more. These properties include: Gal Oya Lodge, on the fringes of a national park; Rukgala Retreat, a yoga escape on the shores of Victoria Lake; The Planters House, a remote and beautiful bungalow set within the original Lipton estate; and Ashburnham Estate, which sits on a working tea estate at the foothills to the Knuckles mountain range.

Seaside hotel

Kuoni (01306 747008; kuoni.co.uk) is offering seven nights with a saving of up to £665 per couple at the newly-renovated Jetwing Lighthouse, a historic hotel with a spectacular location on a headland just west of Galle. The price for selected departures in September, based on two adults sharing, is from £1,099 per person, including breakfast, flights with Emirates from Gatwick and transfers. Bookings before the end of July.

Luxury for less 

Turquoise Holidays (turquoiseholidays.co.uk; 01494 678 400) is offering seven nights at Anantara Tangalle from £1,525 per person. This includes half-board accommodation in a premier ocean view room, flights and private transfers. Included in this price is one free night, free half-board, and a room upgrade subject to availability. Based on travel in September.

Leopard safari

Noel Rodrigo’s Leopard Safaris has just taken another 15 per cent off its recently reduced rates for packages which combine wilderness camp accommodation on the cusp of Sri Lanka’s stunning national parks, and expert-led game drives. From £346 a night per adult. Valid for new bookings until November 31.

A 12-night adventure

Ampersand Travel (ampersandtravel.com; 0207 819 9770) is offering a 12-night Sri Lanka trip with Teardrop Hotels, combining two nights at The Wallawwa, four nights at Nine Skies, three nights at Fort Bazaar and three nights at Kumu Beach from £3,440 per person (a saving of £960 per person). This includes return flights from London, transfers and guides.

Temples and forest

Cheaper still is a nine-night Abercrombie & Kent (abercrombiekent.co.uk; 01242 386 469) ‘Explore Sri Lanka’ tour, now starting at £1,950pp, in which you’ll discover the island’s historic and natural attractions as you move between a series of hotels. Stop-offs include the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, the Temple of the Tooth, and the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya.

Advice for travellers

Although Sri Lanka is no longer off-limits, the FCO retains much of the advice it issued in the wake of the attacks.

It says security has been stepped up across the island and a state of emergency remains in place.

“If you’re visiting or resident in Sri Lanka, you should continue to remain vigilant and keep up to date with developments, including via this travel advice,” the FCO said. “Take sensible precautions, familiarise yourself with security procedures at your hotel or accommodation and follow the advice of local authorities and hotel security staff. Avoid crowded public places, large gatherings and any demonstrations.”

Bandaranaik International, the main airport near Colombo, is advising passengers to arrive at the airport at least fours before departure, due to the introduction of additional security measures. It also says that only travellers, and not accompanying guests, will be allowed inside the terminal.

Seaside hotel

Kuoni (01306 747008; kuoni.co.uk) is offering seven nights with a saving of up to £665 per couple at the newly-renovated Jetwing Lighthouse, a historic hotel with a spectacular location on a headland just west of Galle. The price for selected departures in September, based on two adults sharing, is from £1,099 per person, including breakfast, flights with Emirates from Gatwick and transfers. Bookings before the end of July.

Luxury for less 

Turquoise Holidays (turquoiseholidays.co.uk; 01494 678 400) is offering seven nights at Anantara Tangalle from £1,389 per person. This includes half-board accommodation in a premier ocean view room, flights and private transfers. Included in this price is two free nights, free half-board, and a room upgrade subject to availability. Based on travel in September.

Leopard safari

Noel Rodrigo’s Leopard Safaris has just taken another 15 per cent off its recently reduced rates for packages which combine wilderness camp accommodation on the cusp of Sri Lanka’s stunning national parks, and expert-led game drives. From £346 a night per adult. Valid for new bookings until November 31.

telegraph.co.uk