Tourists start returning to Sri Lanka amid tightened security

The series of recovery efforts and tightened security measures that Sri Lanka has launched in the wake of the Easter Sunday attacks are beginning to bear fruit, as travellers from overseas markets are displaying greater confidence and interest to visit the destination.

At a trade briefing session yesterday, the high commissioner of Sri Lanka to Singapore, Sashikala Premawardhane, said: “Sri Lanka is safe for travel. The government has taken significant measures to ensure a safe and secure environment. In recognition of this, tourists are coming back to the country. Many countries – including the US, China and Japan – have relaxed their travel advisories.”

An aerial view of Goyambokka beach in Tangalle, Sri Lanka

EasterShangri-la Hotel Colombo, which was targeted by the bombing, is now back in business, while national carrier Sri Lankan Airlines is joining outreach efforts to regional agencies.

Mohan Meegolle, Sri Lankan Airlines’ regional manager of South-east Asia, said: “Tourism (to Sri Lanka) has started to pick up, now that security is a bit tight to ensure safety. Visitors can enjoy good (hotel) rates at this point as well.”

And while there were initial concerns among travellers, particularly Singaporeans, the demand has not diminished greatly.

Maleha Maarof, Prime Travel & Tour sales manager, told TTG Asia: “I just came back from a tour with customers. They’re not worried at all. In fact, they say that they feel safe because security is really tight. I have another group leaving (for Sri Lanka) in the first week of August.”

Meanwhile, Airelated Travel is biding its time for more attractive promotions and campaigns to sell to travellers, shared the company’s managing director Margaret Loh.

As part of its outreach efforts, the high commission of Sri Lanka will spotlight three areas of tourism interest: pristine nature, history and island life. The latter will see the introduction of new attractions, such as hot air balloons and scuba diving, in tour packages.

Tourism is an important and growing pillar of Sri Lanka’s economy, with the country seeing a year-on-year growth of 10.3 per cent in arrival numbers from 2017 to 2018. India, China and the UK currently sit in the top three markets.

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