Choosing a Tour Operator in Sri Lanka
If you are planning to visit Sri Lanka for your next holiday, one of the most crucial decisions apart from what you want to do and see in Sri Lanka would be to find a suitable and reliable Tour Operator. This can be a daunting task to ensure language ability, knowledge on the places visited, punctuality, personality and above all integrity.
Here are a few guidelines on how to find that perfect Tour Operator to suite you and what to expect from Tour Operators in Sri Lanka.
1) You should first look for a tour operator attached with a reputed travel agency that offers all major tour and travel related services under one roof. This will not only ensure the best rates as they will enjoy bulk booking discounts from trade partners but you will also benefit from their assurance and standard of service offering.
2) Choose a travel agent based in Colombo to organize and handle your tour. Why? Because your tour will start at the Colombo International Airport and agents based in Colombo will offer transport and guides from Colombo, which is cheaper than having your vehicle transported from anywhere else on the island.
3) All travel agents are supposed to be registered with the Sri Lanka Tourist Board....
4) Having a professional and informative website may be another good sign of a reliable agency. Websites are expensive to design, develop and maintain and agencies that do have a good website would have invested heavily and is a good sign of its longevity and commitment to providing the highest quality of service.
5) Look for agencies that are owned and managed by groups. This is another reliable aspect as the agency will have to maintain reputable standards to ensure the good name of the group it represents.
6) You can also search online to learn more about the travel agent’s reputation and recommendations by other travelers.
Things you should avoid when choose a Tour Operator or Travel Agent:
1) Although there is a very strong and active tourist police division, there are many unlicensed touts that operate outside the International Airport and at many popular tourist destinations. You should avoid these at all times as there are an unreliable source of information and can be dangerous to you and your fellow travelers.
2) Avoid planning and booking your holiday on arrival. Unlike other well developed countries, Sri Lanka’s tourism services are still at its infancy. There are no proper service providers at the airport, accept for representatives from major star category hotels in Colombo.
3) Planning your trip on arrival can also be very expensive as you will pay the “walk-in” rate, as suppose to the discounted agent rates enjoyed by travel agents. Representatives and touts at the airport also know that you have no choice and will hike prices.
4) Avoid using “tuk-tuk” drivers as tour operators.
5) Guides and chauffeur guides are NOT travel agents and will not get agency discounted rates when booking hotels. Hence you will pay the “walk-in” rates which are much higher plus local taxes. They will also not have access to emergence services and backup.