Sri Lanka – The Ground Reality

In the weeks leading up to May 2022, Sri Lanka underwent its greatest economic and political upheaval since gaining independence in 1948 – stemming from spiralling costs of living, collapse of its currency, lack of basic necessities, fuel queues that stretched to the horizon, and apathetic governance. Images and news of Sri Lanka in crisis made the rounds on global media as a frustrated people’s aragalaya (struggle) successfully deposed its corrupt and ineffective government.

In the months since, the economic outlook of Sri Lanka has stabilized to a certain degree. Fuel queues are virtually non-existent, thanks to the implementation of a QR-code based rationing system. Power outages are limited to less than two hours a day, and government and private corporations are operating as usual. The cost of living, however, continues to be meteoric and many are struggling to make ends meet.

Against this backdrop, you may feel hesitant or guilty to travel to Sri Lanka, utilize the limited resources and fuel, and enjoy a relaxing vacation amidst the daily struggles of the locals. While your reluctance to visit Sri Lanka is understandable, travelling to the island nation at this time may be the greatest helping hand you can extend.

From an economic perspective, much of the island’s current crises are resultant from the severe depletion of foreign currency, whose reserves have dropped to the lowest on record, leaving Sri Lanka defaulting on national debt and unable to pay for essential imports including fossil fuel, medicine, and major food items. Choosing to travel to Sri Lanka will ensure the nation receives crucial foreign exchange, alleviating many of the challenges that had arisen due to its shortage.

Furthermore, tourism directly and indirectly benefits over 3 million Sri Lankans, from celebrated chefs working at world-renowned hotels to village artisans, craftsmen, and farmers who are intricately linked to the industry’s wide-ranging supply chain. Your stay in Sri Lanka will support the staff at your resort, villa, or guesthouse; the king coconut seller on the wayside when you purchase a refreshing drink during your journey; the local family who runs an eatery selling authentic Sri Lankan rice and curry; and your chauffeur who will accompany you on your adventure.

Of course, for you, the visitor to the pearl of the Indian Ocean, there is no better time to explore Sri Lanka and enjoy the best of the tropical island. Major tourist attractions are quieter, sometimes all but exclusive. With restrictions being imposed on most imported food products, you may find Australian beef and Norwegian salmon missing from the menus, but they have been replaced with pride by our own dishes, with home-grown ingredients given the chance to shine. Sri Lankan authorities, recognizing the vital role played by tourism, have prioritised fuel and power for the sector so your stay will not be affected.

Despite everything the island has been through over the past few years and the struggles and challenges faced by the people, Sri Lanka remains vibrant, its natural wonders are yet breath-taking, the cuisine even more sure of its identity, and the people as warm and welcoming as ever.

Has there ever been a better time to visit Sri Lanka?