Published on : Friday, July 5, 2019
The attacks were targeted towards luxury hotels and churches, and tourism numbers declined by 70 percent in the first month after the incidents. A Sri Lankan delegation visited India in mid-June to say that the country is now safe for visit, and to invite Indian tourists with special discounted offers, slashing airline, hotel and transport prices by up to 60 percent, valid until September.
Indians account for the largest number of tourists in Sri Lanka. 4 lakh Indian tourists visited Sri Lanka in 2018 and 1.5 lakh in the first three months of this year.
To quote John Amaratunga, tourism minister, wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs, “I assure all of India that Sri Lanka is secure. All those directly and indirectly involved in the attacks are in custody, and several countries have lifted their travel advisories, including India.”
Sri Lanka’s tourism losses after the attacks amount to as much as $1.5 billion.
“Last year, we made $4.5 billion from tourism, and we had estimated about $5 billion this year. Of course, those were derailed at the end of the fourth month, but now, things are picking up again. We may be close to a $3 billion target now,” Amaratunga added. “This is unfortunate, as Sri Lanka is heavily dependent on tourism.”
The minister said that security has been ramped up at airports along with hotels, and the plan to offer free visa and visa on arrival to certain countries is suspended for security reasons.