Mob attacks put tourism industry further into peril
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.