Struggling tourism sector of Sri Lanka sees signs of hope

Published on : Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Last week, the struggling tourism sector of Sri Lanka was buoyed by at least three very positive news. First, the Shangri La Hotel, which was extensively damaged in the Easter Sunday carnage, is now partially open for business. It will become fully operative soon.


Second, India’s Civil Aviation Minister announced that the additional Delhi-Colombo-Delhi Air India flight will resume on July 15 this year. Third, several tour operators have already increased their bookings and tours for the 2020-21 season after the relaxation of travel advisories.


There is perhaps no huge blow suffered by the tourism sector of Sri Lanka, except for the 2004 tsunami. Post-2009, tourism was one industry in Sri Lanka that showed no signs of slowing down. It was this momentum that attracted top names in the global hospitality industry like Sheraton, Shangri La and Ritz Carlton to Sri Lanka within the last 10 years. The opening of the Shangri La heralded that Sri Lanka has indeed “arrived” on the global tourism scene.


Things will start to change soon, with the Air India announcement. Indian Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said “Honouring the spirit of friendship and mutual cooperation between India and Sri Lanka and to express solidarity with the people of the island nation, I am delighted to announce the resumption of the additional Air India flight between New Delhi and Colombo from July 15.”


This is indeed good news, given that many Indians made use of this flight and many other foreigners also connected to this flight at New Delhi. Now the onus is on the Government and civil aviation authorities to invite other airlines which have suspended services like KLM and Aeroflot, to resume them at least from winter season. A special mention must be made of the national carrier SriLankan Airlines which not only filled the vacuum but also became the world’s most punctual airline under trying circumstances. It is important to get the airlines back on track.


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