Despite a written agreement between the Russian government and the Sri Lankan authorities, thousands of Russian tourists have been left helpless in the wake of a complaint from a small insurance company, in a western country, said Russian tourist Elena Mesenkova, at the Katunayake Airport departure terminal yesterday (5).
She added that it was “surprising” that Sri Lanka is shutting down one of its main sources of foreign exchange thereby challenging Sri Lanka’s tourism industry in the future.
“The Russian tourists came to Sri Lanka for a 14-day visit. We were in Hikkaduwa. Due to this sudden situation, the Russian government informed us to suspend the trip and return. Accordingly, after completing the 14-day tour in 7 days, we arrived at the Katunayake Airport for the last flight of this Russian Aeroflot to return to Russia,” said Mesenkova.
The Russian government had earlier informed the tourists that it was suitable to visit to Sri Lanka and made referrals for that purpose, she added.
“We were shocked by this sudden situation. We did not have diesel to travel in this country. Not only that, there was a power cut. In the midst of all these problems, we gladly visited Sri Lanka. Because of our Russian tourists, Sri Lanka gets dollars. But due to this decision, Sri Lanka loses that status. The Russian President will take a tough decision on this incident,” she claimed.
“The Russian Government has informed us to immediately suspend our visits to Sri Lanka and return immediately,” Mesenkova said.
She added that no Russian tourist would ever visit Sri Lanka again for fear of such incidents.
All Russian tourists in Sri Lanka arrived at the Katunayake International Airport at around 10.00 am yesterday (5) to leave Sri Lanka on their last Russian Aeroflot flight after the Russian Government instructed them to suspend their tours and return.
By T.K.G. Kapila – Katunayake