Kiwi family stuck in Sri Lanka calls for more assistance from NZ govt.


Bill Stevenson and his family went to Sri Lanka for a holiday. They are now stranded, and the only guests in an otherwise empty hotel, New Zealand's reports.

The Christchurch man is calling on the Government to provide more support to New Zealanders stuck overseas as a result of countries imposing travel restrictions and airlines slashing flights, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Other countries have organised mercy flights to repatriate their citizens. "There's obviously opportunities to get us out, because the Maldives are doing it. Germany is doing it," Stevenson said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, on Wednesday, that unless there were commercial flights operating it was almost impossible to bring people home. The Government had been proactive about telling people to return, she said, but now the window for travel had closed.

"The message now for many New Zealanders will simply be wherever you are set yourself up for the time being, because it has become increasingly difficult for us to bring you home."

Stevenson, wife Kirsten and two of their children, aged 13 and 17, left New Zealand, on March 9, and spent two days in Singapore before continuing on to Sri Lanka for a holiday they had planned for the past eight months.

When the New Zealand Government started encouraging people to return, they brought their flights forward, from March 26 to March 20.

Stevenson said this was the only available flight, but it was cancelled and the family could not proceed with their original booking as Singapore moved to ban transit passengers. A travel agent was helping the family look for other options, Stevenson said, but had found nothing.

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