After multiple attacks in the country on April 21, Sri Lanka is doing everything to maintain its peace. The country’s tourism board is providing all possible assistance to tourists in need of help and aiming to surpass the recent drop in the visitor’s arrival.
The series of blast in Sri Lanka on April 21, claimed the lives of more than 350 people and wounded around 500. The attack is considered to be the deadliest violence to hit the South Asian country since the civil war that ended a decade ago. The multiple blasts ripped through the hotels and churches in Colombo, the capital, Negombo, a town north of the capital, and in Batticaloa, a town on the east coast.
Following the acts of terror, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) and Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) have continued to engage with high-level government officials and tourism stakeholders in order to assess the current situation and have taken necessary steps to ensure all possible assistance is provided to tourists in need of help.
The emerald island, known for its beautiful beaches and sunsets, witnessed a sudden drop in the tourist arrivals. Data showed a 41 pc increase in cancellation of departure bookings for Sri Lanka from April 21 -27. SLTDA chairman Kishu Gomes said the attacks’ impact on Sri Lanka’s tourism economy is inevitable, but he expressed confidence that the situation in Sri Lanka will gradually return to normal.
The path to peace
In the immediate aftermath of the explosions Sri Lanka Tourism deployed trained emergency response teams and its representatives at hospitals, affected hotels and the airport to assist tourists in any way possible including hotel transfers, airline bookings, airport transfers, itinerary changes, hospital treatment, contacting their loved ones and reuniting missing family members through diplomatic channels.
“Sri Lanka Tourism wishes to assure tourists who are already in the country and unaffected by the terror attacks that the police, tourism police and security forces are jointly implementing a comprehensive security plan to ensure their safety across the island including all important tourism sites. Meanwhile, a security briefing was held on April 22 for hotel owners and operators on the new safety measures that are being rolled out and to seek their cooperation in strengthening security at hotels and resorts,” said the tourism board in a statement.
Sri Lanka Tourism has reassured the world that the country is open for business and all possible measures have been taken to ensure the safety and security of tourists. All the famous tourist sites, hotels, resorts, and other tourist attractions will remain open. There are no road closures or restrictions on movement anywhere in the island.
The bombings have led to a serious impact on Sri Lanka’s economy that largely depends on tourism. The impact of the serial blasting have resulted in a sharp drop in the visitor’s arrival, cancellation of itineraries and bookings of flights and hotels. ” We have had quite a few cancellations for trips to Sri Lanka. Even clients who are going to areas other than Colombo like Trincomalee are cancelling since it necessitates stay in Colombo. With the confusion on cancellation of on-arrival visas, things are even more complicated for the clients who are planning on that. This has thrown summer holiday plans for many travellers out of gear. Some are cancelling their holiday while others are changing the destination to places with similar budgets like Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia etc.”, said Anand Parameswaran, founder, Beyonder Experiences, a travel company based out of Bengaluru, to Media India Group.
While the money is at stake, there are issues coming up with the refunding process. “We handle transport and hotels, however, ensuring the refunds is happening to the maximum extent that is possible. Most hotels are obliging given the situation, which is happening on a case to case basis,” added Anand.
As per the SLTDA, Indian tourists look forward to luxury holidays, beach resorts, casinos and hill stations apart from Ramayana and Buddhist tourist circuits in Sri Lanka. By marketing the Ramayana circuit, Sri Lanka was aiming at attracting one million mark in 2019. The number of Indians killed in the massive Easter bombings rose to 11 as on April 25, and the total number of foreigners who died in the attack went to 36, according to the Sri Lankan foreign ministry. The country is doing everything to maintain the peace that it has enjoyed the past one decade.
In addition a 24 hour emergency support desk has been established where tourists who are currently in Sri Lanka can dial 1912 from a local number, whereas families of affected foreign nationals can dial +94 11 2322485.