The Government yesterday lifted a travel advisory against South India after assurances by the Indian authorities that they would provide security to all arrivals, a statement from the External Affairs said.
The travel advisory was issued last month after 184 Sri Lankan pilgrims were attacked in Tamil Nadu and had to be brought back on a special flight chartered by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The removal of the travel advisory comes after Rajapaksa’s visit to India that included talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which were reported to be positive.
The advisory cautioned all Sri Lankans from travelling to Tamil Nadu and insisted that locals notify the High Commission in Chennai before travel. An estimated 200,000 Sri Lankans travel to Tamil Nadu annually.
“The Government of Sri Lanka is pleased that the Government of India, in close consultation with the concerned State Governments, has taken and will continue to take all measures to ensure the safety, security and wellbeing of Sri Lankan dignitaries and visitors to all parts of India including Tamil Nadu,” the statement released by the External Affairs Ministry said.
It added that people-to-people contact plays an important role in the multifaceted India-Sri Lanka relationship, especially in further promoting historical, cultural and political ties as well as economic and business relations.
The Government of Sri Lanka is of the view that this age-old natural process of interaction must flourish, unhindered, which led to the lifting of the travel advisory.
The pilgrim attack has also significantly reduced airline revenue, according to Indian media reports.
Tour operators in South India had reported a drop of as much as 60 per cent of travellers from Sri Lanka hitting airlines such as budget carrier Spicejet and Mihin Air as well as national carrier SriLankan after the travel advisory.
Tensions reached a new pitch after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, a vociferous critic of the Sri Lankan Government, demanded from Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that local defense personnel receiving training be sent back and also ordered a school football team to return. courtesy: Financial Times