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Sri Lanka Tourism trying to revive industry after terror setback

Sri Lanka Tourism trying to revive industry after terror setback

The Sri Lanka Tourism organization is working to revive the industry that had a temporary setback due to the recent terror incident. This past Easter Sunday, on April 21, 2019, 3 churches and 3 luxury hotels in the commercial capital of Colombo were targets for terrorist suicide bombings.

Just 2 days ago, Sri Lanka Attorney General Dappula de Livera advised the acting police chief to launch a criminal investigation of the former Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando over “major lapses” that contributed to security failures before the bombings that killed over 250 people.  His recommendation is based on the findings of a special board of inquiry appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena after the April 21 blasts. Fernando stepped down 4 days after the blasts, after Sirisena asked for his resignation and that of Police Chief Pujith Jayasundara, who refused to resign. Sirisena later suspended Jayasundara and appointed an acting police chief.

It has been resported that Indian intelligence agents send several warnings to Sri Lankan authorities that a plot was under way, but Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had both said they were not briefed about the warnings before the attacks.

In an effort to ramp up Indian outbound tourists visiting Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Tourism in collaboration with SriLankan Airlines, The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL), and inbound tour operators have introduced attractive packages, specifically targeting India, its number one source market.

The package that Sri Lanka Tourism is offering includes discounted airfare, accommodation, transport and more, ranging from 30% to 60% off normal prices. This package is unique to India and can be availed across Sri Lankan Airlines’ network covering 12 cities in India with 123 weekly flights.

Ms. Chamari Rodrigo – Consul General, Sri Lanka, along with the Sri Lankan delegation headed by Hon. John Amaratunga, Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs, attended the event.

The Hon. Minister of Tourism spoke of the restored security environment in Sri Lanka and assured the audience that the incident will not reoccur again. He further requested media to fully support the efforts put forth by the Sri Lanka Tourism Board together with key stakeholders of the industry and thanked them for their extended support in the past which has been instrumental in making India the number one source market for Sri Lanka.

The 5 tour packages to Sri Lanka range from a combination of stays in Colombo, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Dambulla, Sigiriya, and South Coast with multiple options to suit any budget. These offers will be valid for stays from June 10, 2019 to September 30, 2019 and can be availed through the travel agents network in India.

Mr. Kishu Gomes, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, described the brand and marketing communication strategy aimed at reviving the industry as well as the growth trajectory that Sri Lanka Tourism recorded. Furthermore, Mr. Gomes requested Indian tourists to avail of the attractive package while supporting the process of recovery as Sri Lanka’s most respected neighbor.

“India has been the number one source market to Sri Lanka over the past decade and in 2018 recorded over 400,000 visitors to the island. The national carrier, SriLankan Airlines, operates 123 weekly flights from key Indian cities, and we believe such offers are quick to popularize across Indian cities,” said Mr. Dimuthu Tennakoon, Head of Worldwide Sales and Distribution (HWSD) of Sri Lankan Airlines.

Additionally, Master Card, which has over 180 million Indian card holders, has also come on board to promote the launched packages through their well-connected channels.

India has accounted for 18.2 percent, which is 424,887 arrivals in 2018, an impeccable 10.5 percent hike from last year. In 2017 itself, 383,000 Indians visited the destination. In 2018, this number increased to 426,000. Sri Lanka aims to progressively promote the destination for weddings and film shoots this year, with leisure being the primary focus.