What to do if you have booked a trip to Sri Lanka
The horrific terror attacks in Sri Lanka have triggered a change in travel advice for Australians headed to the popular tourist destination. Eight bombs targeting luxury hotels and churches have so far killed 359 people, including two Australians, and injured a further 500.
A local militant group has accepted responsibility for the blasts.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) has upgraded its advice level to Sri Lanka from 'Exercise normal safety precautions' to 'Reconsider your need to travel'.
Advice for travellers to Sri Lanka
According to DFAT, travellers to Sri Lanka are advised to "avoid all affected areas and minimise movement until the situation stabilises."
Travellers heading to Sri Lanka have been urged to follow government advice and speak to their travel providers regarding travel plan disruptions.
Due to the upgraded threat levels, few travel insurance providers would cover those wanting to alter their travel plans.
Most insurance policies exclude cover for terrorist attacks.
However, several on the market, including Insure4less, Travelinsuranz, and New Zealand provider TINZ, do give travellers provision to claim for cancellation in the event that a governmental 'do not travel' warning was issued after you had purchased your policy.
Despite it being a listed exclusion, many insurers will review extreme cases of terrorism.
Despite the fact that many insurers will not cover cancellation due to acts of terrorism, the majority do have their customers best interests at heart and will judge each case on its own merit.
Additionally, many insurers will provide cover for medical expenses, including the cost to get you back home as a result of an injury from a terrorist attack.
Should you cancel your plans to visit Sri Lanka?
As an exotic alternative to Bali, Aussie visitor numbers to Sri Lanka have grown 10.7% since 2014. However, the recent bombings will no doubt rattle those bound for the region.
As tourists and foreign visitors were directly targeted by these attacks, travellers to Sri Lanka have every right to feel alarmed.
Those with immediate travel plans should get in touch with their travel providers.
Speak to your travel agent or airline. Following acts of terror, most service providers will be flexible and amenable to date changes.
For instance, passengers with Emirates will be entitled to amend or cancel their flights to Sri Lanka without charge. Those planning to travel to Sri Lanka in the future should take a 'wait and see' approach.