Sri Lanka’s tourism industry will take several measures to rebuild the industry which got severely affected after several blasts went off across the island including a few major hotels in Colombo on Easter Sunday.
Over 40 foreign nationals allegedly died during the attacks in hotels, according to reports.
Chairman of Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL), Sanath Ukwatte said that Sri Lanka will continue to participate in all future travel shows and trade fairs and would also look at new avenues to rebuild the country’s image as ‘preferred tourist destination’ among international clients.
“The industry stakeholders will meet regularly and discuss the issues, to find new promotional strategies.
Currently, our teams are visiting the hospitals and looking at the welfare of tourists who were injured during the Easter Sunday attacks.”
He also said that the industry has also taken a decision ‘not to charge any cancellation fees’ from tourists if they plan to cancel their holidays in Sri Lanka within the next two weeks.
However, he stressed it is the duty of the government to provide security to hotels and the industry doesn’t have the expertise nor any equipment to take precautions against attacks by terrorists. “If the government specifically informs us of any threats in the future, we will take precautions to safeguard the lives of tourists.”
Meanwhile Sri Lanka Inbound Tour Operators (SALITO) President Mahen Kariyawasam said that they too are assessing the situation at present and will come up with some plans to re develop the tourism industry. President Bentota Hoteliers Association Rohan Gamage said that though there are future cancellations the existing guests want to stay. “We are convincing these guests to give a ‘good picture of Sri Lanka’ when they get back.”
Gamage said that they want a firm assurance from the government on the future security aspect of Sri Lanka and ensure no such incidents happen in the future. “The Police in the area are cooperating with us and this is a great encouragement.”
Meanwhile, General Manager, Goldie Sands Hotel and member of the Negombo Hoteliers Association, Lal Dissanayake said that they are facing several cancellations and this was alarming. “We have requested the travel agents to re look at Sri Lanka in a positive manner. However they say they will go by the travel advisories at this crucial time.” Dissanayake however said that a group of the UK tourists have contacted them and wanted to send a large group of UK tourists to show solidarity with Sri Lanka. Negombo hoteliers are also collecting funds to give the victims of the Easter Sunday blasts.
Cinnamon Grand, Shangri La Hotel and Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo were affected by the bomb blasts on Sunday. Both Kingsbury and Shangri La announced that they are closed until further notice while Cinnamon Grand is continuing their operations.
Meanwhile the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs issued the following statement.
“Following the acts of terror that took place on Easter Sunday, 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 to assess the current situation and have taken necessary steps to ensure all possible assistance is provided to tourists in need of help.
Sri Lanka Tourism is deeply shocked and saddened by the senseless violence and unreservedly condemns these dastardly acts. We offer our deepest sympathies and condolences to all the victims and their families, while wishing a speedy recovery to all those injured and currently receiving treatment.
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.
In addition a 24 hour emergency support desk has been established and can be accessed as follows; Emergency local hotline number to assist tourists currently in Sri Lanka – 1912, Emergency hotline to assist families of affected foreign nationals +94 11 2322485.
Sri Lanka Tourism meanwhile 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.
Sri Lanka Tourism meanwhile 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. Our world famous tourism sites, hotels, resorts and other tourist attractions will remain open as usual. There are no road closures or restrictions on movement anywhere in the island. Sri Lanka is a proudly diverse nation which celebrates its multicultural nature. Since the end of the war a decade ago, Sri Lanka has enjoyed absolute peace and it will do everything within its power to maintain the peace.
Sri Lanka Tourism looked forward to warmly welcome all those who have planned trips to the country in the days, weeks and months ahead,” the statement said.