Campaigners welcome House of Lords support for travel advice reform

Trade campaigners have welcomed the support of a House of Lords debate to initiate talks with ministers on reform of Foreign Office guidance.

During a House of Lords debate, Lord Naseby requested meetings with foreign secretary David Cameron and a junior minister in a bid to update advice on the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office website for travel to Sri Lanka, which has been deemed out of date and damaging to the destination’s tourism.

Sam Clarke, managing director of Sri Lanka specialist operator Experience Travel Group, one of the key firms campaigning for advice to be amended, said: “We are thrilled to see Lord Naseby’s support in the House of Lords this week.

“Naseby has been a long time supporter of business and tourism in Sri Lanka for over 60 years, and we welcome his support in holding the Foreign Office to account on their misleading travel advice in Sri Lanka.”

Clarke said it was vital the guidance was accurate because holidaymakers put their trust in it for their safety and wellbeing.

He added: “The inconsistent advice on the FCDO website risks undermining confidence in the whole system of FCDO advice, which our polling shows is heavily relied on by British travellers.

“We now have a broad coalition of support across industry and in parliament, and are demanding to meet Lord Cameron to have this outdated and inaccurate advice reviewed.”

Lord Naseby raised the issue during a House of Lords debate on March 5.

This followed an open letter to government, penned by the Experience Travel Group in January and signed by more than 35 MPs, peers, travel providers and businesses. This called for the guidance to be updated, saying it was “overly harsh”.

In the debate, Lord Naseby said tourism was recovering to Sri Lanka post-Covid but stressed that the advice on the FCDO website was outdated, which particularly impacted older travellers, who were more likely than younger holidaymakers to check government advice according to a recent poll.

“It’s the FCDO comments on that country that currently cause me concern,” he said, speaking in the House of Lords. “They refer to the fact protests going on when they are not. They say there’s been a fuel shortage but there isn’t one, and there hasn’t been for 18 months.”

He said other difficulties of a terrorist nature referred to in the travel advice were five years out of date.

He called for the guidance to be “looked at” and requested a meeting between Experience Travel Group and a junior minister with a view to amending the advice.

Naseby also made a plea for a meeting with foreign secretary Lord Cameron to discuss the campaign.

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