Bhubaneswar: Sri Lanka had recently turned a preferred travel destination for the people of Odisha. Not anymore.
Unfortunately, amid the rising tension and fear of the terror attacks, a number of travellers have cancelled their trips.
While a number of people have cancelled their existing bookings, new bookings also fell away.
Priyanka, an IT professional at Tech Mahindra here, had booked her trip to the island country from May 3 through a travel agent based in Bhubaneswar long before the Easter bombings.
“Even after the incident, I thought that the situation will stabilise and I will manage. But the recent news of further bombings is really frightening and I don’t want to take any chances,” she said.
She is now travelling to Malaysia instead. “I had heard a lot about Sri Lanka from my friends and was really excited about the trip.
She cancelled her booking just a week before the travel date.
Sri Lanka being a popular honeymoon destination, many couples, who had planned their honeymoon in the coming weeks, have been forced to make alternative arrangements.
Abhishek Mohanty, an HR professional, from Berhampur had planned a trip to Sri Lanka in June.
“This was our first trip after marriage and I wanted it to be special. I had heard about Kandy and Bentota so much but now I am thankful that I did not book the tickets. I will now have to plan for other else,” said Abhishek.
Travel agents have also gone berserk with the whole refund process.
“Booking international trips is a lengthy affair and the refund process is full of hassles. The remittance charges are a lot, which adds up to the cost. So, getting 100 percent refund is not that easy,” said Madhusmita Mishra from Trip 4 Fun.
They had five confirmed bookings for Sri Lanka in May and June, which now stand cancelled.
She said that people from Odisha preferred the country because of the climate and also because it is reasonable.
Rashmishree Palo had also planned a trip to Sri Lanka with her parents in the first week of June.
“My trip was finalised. I was about to book the tickets and then the news came. I am thankful that I did not do the bookings,” she said.
She is now travelling to Thailand. “Foreign offices have already put it on the ‘no go’ list so there is no point in taking any chance,” she added.
Tour operators say that apart from Thailand and Malaysia, Sri Lanka had become a preferred destination for travellers in the last one year.
‘”People from Odisha hardly went to Sri Lanka but in 2018, we witnessed many people taking interest in the country. We had around 15 bookings for Sri Lanka las year,” said Sargam Chhotray, another travel agent.
Shirshendu Roy, a commentator, travelled with his wife to Sri Lanka last year.