The series of Easter Sunday bombs, which killed at least 321 people and wounded 500, could also deal a crushing blow to Sri Lanka’s fragile economy, of which tourism is a significant revenue generator since the end of the civil war in 2009.
Many tourism industry leaders have condemned the bombings and mourned the loss of lives, while urging the global travel community to stand in solidarity with Sri Lanka by continuing to visit the island nation.
In a circular distributed to partners and friends, Shiromal Cooray, chairman & managing director of Jetwing Travels and chairman of Jetwing Hotels wrote: “It is with profound sadness and a very heavy heart that I write this message to you. I did not in my wildest dreams imagine that terror will strike my beautiful and peaceful island home just a decade after we ended a senseless war. It appears that sinister forces were at play and we are confident that our intelligence and defense personnel will do what needs to be done, to continue that peace and tranquility that attracted and continue to attract many visitors to Sri Lanka.”
She continued: “You have been with us at our worst and seen us through very difficult situations, I ask you again on behalf of all Sri Lankans and especially, our team at Jetwing, please continue in the same spirit, we cannot and must not let these incidents rule our lives.”
Jetwing, unfortunately, lost a young couple, a telephone operator and her fiancé, a steward from its Jetwing Blue team in Negombo, as well as a newlywed guest who stayed with his wife at the Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo as part of their honeymoon.
While Creative Travel is not directly affected by deadly bombs and all its staff and guests are safe and accounted for, joint managing directors Rajeev Kohli and Rohit Kohli made an emotion appeal to the global travel community.
They said: “One humble request – please do not abandon the destination. The nation survives on tourism and needs the support of the global travel industry. Many nations over the past few years have gone through traumatic natural or man-made incidents that have impacted tourism. But we have also seen many of them getting the affection and support from the tourism fraternity. We hope Sri Lanka will get the same.”
G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip, stated that any attack on our religious institutions is an attack on all humanity, regardless of faith. “We cannot allow this wave of division to further separate humanity. We must use this tragic loss to unite us. It’s my belief that compassion for all people, combined with an understanding of different backgrounds, religions and cultures, has the potential to be the fastest path to peace.”
Chic Locations said that Sri Lanka has been one of its most successful destinations over the last two years with excellent client satisfaction, and recommends clients “to continue travelling but adhere to sensible precautions, just as you would in any country following such an attack”.
The UK-based luxury boutique operator added: “Whilst we anticipate there may be some apprehension to travel to the destination, we can assure you that the Sri Lanka destination tourism partners, hotels and ground operators working in tandem with the government are introducing additional measures to ensure safety and allay these concerns.
“We expect that within a few months Sri Lanka will be just as popular as ever, with clients from around the world defiantly refusing to be beaten by any cowardly act. We have experienced this in so many countries including the UK (London and Manchester) and we have no reason to think Sri Lanka will be any different.”