Given that travel restrictions are easing, you or someone you know might consider visiting Sri Lanka for business, to see family who they've been apart from for a long time or travel for other purposes. Given the current situation in Sri Lanka, and having visited there recently, here are a few things to consider if you or someone you know may plan on travelling to Sri Lanka in the near future.
Sri Lanka is going through its worst economic crisis that they've experienced in a long time. People who are currently living in Sri Lanka are affected by a lack of gas/fuel for transportation, an increase in the cost of living and no immediate changes to their current state of living regardless of trying their best to trigger change. Therefore, the most important thing to remember is to be considerate of their situation. You are likely to meet people who are frustrated or stressed so showing them a “tourist-like” attitude isn’t going to be a very humanly thing to do. Be patient and kind.
Transportation - If you don't have a car of your own and rely on public transportation, choose to take a tuktuk/three-wheeler/auto (whichever you'd like to call it) in order to help support those who rely on the income they make from it for their financial wellbeing. Most individuals who own three wheelers are waiting in line for many days to pump fuel and end up using half of it trying to find customers. Listening to their stories will break your heart. They’re one of the most affected group of people and aren’t able to find alternative method to earn an income.
Food – Contrary to news published in some media outlets who mentioned a lack of basic groceries, most shops do have an ample amount of supplies. But the prices of groceries have doubled in the past few years. You are likely to spend a lot more than before so keep that in mind if you’re consider grocery shopping. Also, some restaurants and hotels may unexpectedly run out of cooking gas and may cancel your reservation last minute. Be patient and considerate of their situation rather than reacting to it. From my understanding, most hotels especially in the city are able to operate as usual but expect unpredictable changes to their schedule. I would recommend taking a variety of snacks for emergency purposes :)
Safety – Be extremely careful with your personal belongings, jewelry etc. From conversations I had, most people mentioned an increase in the number of thefts all across regions who were affected by the crisis. Some incidents where groceries were stolen as soon as a purchase was complete, to some fatal incidents if people refused to give some change. So the more minimalistic you are with what you carry around while commuting, the safer you are. As mentioned before, most people are living in a state of frustration and fear so we can never be certain of what might trigger them to act the way they do.
Flying - Be prepared to experience delays during your travel. The experience in and out of airports require extra patience, and a lot more tolerance! The line-ups for customs, baggage pick up and in some cases abrupt changes to departure and arrival times may test your patience a bit. Dress comfortable, keep a book and your phone charger handy!
Giving back – this is one aspect that will always reap you rewards. Since the cost of living has increased, this also affects places such as orphanages due to a lack of donations and assistance from people. So if you have the chance to, please consider sponsoring meals when possible. It will benefit them and in return give you the satisfaction of doing what you can to help those in need of help. We are privileged to live in the western world and not experience what people in Sri Lanka are facing. The only way to be grateful for the privileges we have is to give back and support local businesses, restaurants, and people while they continue to fight for their right to live. With that being said, another responsibility we all have is to make sure that we are able to create awareness of the current situation and inform people, especially those outside of our community, about this ongoing crisis so that things will take a turn for the better.