Mob at­tacks put tourism in­dus­try fur­ther into peril

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - MIRROR BUSINESS - By Nishel Fer­nando

„Ar­rivals now down 85%, from ear­lier 60% es­ti­ma­tion

„Hote­liers, travel man­age­ment com­pa­nies se­lect mar­kets to of­fer pro­mo­tional pack­ages

„Tourism in­dus­try lead­ers to meet Eran to­day to fi­nalise fi­nan­cial relief pack­age

„

The re­cent mob at­tacks car­ried out tar­get­ing Mus­lims in sev­eral parts of Sri Lanka, in the af­ter­math of the Easter Sun­day at­tacks, could

fur­ther hin­der tourist ar­rivals to the is­land na­tion, dash­ing the in­dus­try’s hopes for a faster re­cov­ery.

“There’s se­vere reper­cus­sion for the in­dus­try. The ar­rivals have dropped by 85 per­cent and the ad hoc cur­fews are also not send­ing the cor­rect sig­nals to the world,” a tourism in­dus­try leader told Mir­ror Busi­ness.

The tourism in­dus­try stake­hold­ers and au­thor­i­ties were ex­pect­ing for a re­cov­ery in less than 13 months. How­ever, the in­dus­try now re­mains pes­simistic of that out­look, af­ter the re­cent de­vel­op­ments.

Ac­cord­ing to The Ho­tels As­so­ci­a­tion of Sri Lanka, the is­land­wide ho­tel oc­cu­pancy rates re­main at around 10 per­cent, while the oc­cu­pancy lev­els at Colombo ho­tels re­main at 7 per­cent.

The Sri Lanka Tourism De­vel­op­ment Author­ity ear­lier stated that the tourist ar­rivals had de­clined by 60 per­cent year-on-year (YOY) on av­er­age, in early May.

Ex­press­ing his frus­tra­tion, an­other tourism in­dus­try stake­holder noted that there has been al­most no progress in terms of get­ting the travel ad­vi­sories on Sri Lanka lifted.

How­ever, con­sid­er­ing the re­cent de­vel­op­ments, he stressed that the in­dus­try is un­able to con­tem­plate a way for­ward for Sri Lanka Tourism, un­til the coun­try re­turns to nor­malcy.

Af­ter im­pos­ing an is­land­wide cur­few for two con­sec­u­tive nights, the coun­try’s se­cu­rity forces yes­ter­day an­nounced the sit­u­a­tion had been brought un­der con­trol.

The Sri Lanka As­so­ci­a­tion of In­bound Tour Op­er­a­tors ear­lier pro­posed the gov­ern­ment to con­duct a se­cu­rity au­dit to build the con­fi­dence on the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion of the coun­try, which was also backed by sev­eral of­fi­cials and min­is­ters of the gov­ern­ment.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try sources, the gov­ern­ment has dis­missed the pro­posal for a se­cu­rity au­dit by an in­ter­na­tional in­de­pen­dent se­cu­rity firm.

Mean­while, hote­liers, travel man­age­ment com­pa­nies (TMCS) and air­lines yes­ter­day de­cided to of­fer spe­cial pro­mo­tional tour pack­ages to tourists in sev­eral se­lected coun­tries.

“Ini­tially, we will of­fer these pack­ages to se­lected mar­kets, which in­clude In­dia, China, the Mid­dle East, Rus­sia, the United King­dom, Eu­ro­pean Union and Aus­tralia,” a lead­ing hote­lier said.

The hote­liers, TMCS and Board of Air­line Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Sri Lanka are sched­uled to meet next week to dis­cuss the pos­si­ble dis­count rates in or­der to fi­nalise the pack­age.

In an­other de­vel­op­ment, the tourism in­dus­try stake­hold­ers are sched­uled to meet Fi­nance State Min­is­ter Eran Wick­ra­ma­ratne and other top gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials this afternoon to fi­nalise the fi­nan­cial relief pack­age to the in­dus­try.

An in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tive said that some of the in­dus­try pro­pos­als, which were not ear­lier con­sid­ered, would be taken up dur­ing the meet­ing.

The in­dus­try has re­quested the gov­ern­ment to ex­tend the an­nounced one-year mo­ra­to­rium to leas­ing firms as many have pur­chased ve­hi­cles on lease for tourism ac­tiv­i­ties and they will now face dif­fi­cul­ties in con­tin­u­ing with their lease pay­ments.

The gov­ern­ment ex­pects to con­tain the de­cline in tourist ar­rivals to 30 per­cent this year, with a loss of US $ 1.5 bil­lion in tourism earn­ings.

In April, the tourist ar­rivals de­clined by 7.5 per­cent YOY to 166,975, lift­ing the cu­mu­la­tive tourist ar­rivals to 0.9 mil­lion in the first four months of the year, record­ing a growth of 2.2 per­cent YOY.

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