The report from ForwardKeys, which analyses over 17 million flight bookings a day, has shown that between January 1 and April 21, international flight bookings to Sri Lanka rose 3 per cent up from the year before.
But in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, there was a spike in cancellations and bookings collapsed. The first week saw a decline of 181 per cent, which means that in addition to no new bookings being made, there was a wave of cancellations of existing bookings.
From the beginning of May, a timid recovery trend began. But bookings still have a long way to go before they bounce back to last year’s levels. Over the three-month period from April 22 to July 21, bookings have been 69 per cent down from the equivalent dates in 2018.
Less than two months after the suicide bombings, flight bookings to Sri Lanka stabilised. From June 9 to July 21, the level plateaued at 26 per cent down from the equivalent period last year.
Jameson Wong, Asia-Pacific business development director of ForwardKeys, said: “One has to feel deep sympathy for the people of Sri Lanka. They suffered from a coordinated campaign of ghastly suicide bombings on Easter Sunday, a day of the year which will make the horrors harder to forget. The deliberate targeting of tourists, as well as locals, is having a severe impact on a valuable sector of the country’s economy, which (according to the WTTC) is responsible for 27 per cent of export revenue.”
He added: “We are seeing initial signs of recovery, but it is likely to take time before visitors regain their confidence in travelling to this beautiful country. The irony is that this is a really good time to visit Sri Lanka, as there will be pressure on prices. Also, it will be a fantastic experience to support a recovering nation and feel the warmth of Sri Lankan hospitality.”