THE tragedy of the Easter bombing terror attacks in Sri Lanka has taken a heavy toll on the country’s tourism industry, with the Sri Lankan Government predicting a 30% drop in tourism year-on-year following the incidents.
Tourism makes up 5% of the country’s gross domestic product and is its third largest source of foreign investment. Compounding the human cost resulting from the terror event is the fact that Sri Lanka had been enjoying steady growth in the tourism sector in the preceding years, with the industry prior to the attacks anticipating more than three million tourists and revenues of more than US$5 billion in 2019.
However, The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka now estimates the country will lose approximately US$1.5 billion in tourism earnings for the year. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, Sri Lanka Tourism implemented emergency protocols to ensure the safety of tourists.
“Trained teams were deployed to the affected hotels, all hospitals and the airport to ensure that all tourists directly affected by the attacks received the care, attention and assistance they needed,” said Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Kishu Gomes.
On a brighter note, the road to recovery for Sri Lanka’s tourism industry has been mapped out, with an emphasis on tourist safety and value for money at the forefront of the strategy to attract visitors back.
“I can assure tourists that we have taken all precautions to ensure their safety in all parts of the country,” said Sri Lanka’s Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga.
“Hotels and airlines have come out with never to be repeated offers, so now is the time to visit the country… none of our tourist sites were affected and remain ready to welcome visitors so Sri Lanka is very much open for business,” he added.