Hoteliers urge travellers to look towards Sri Lanka

‌Sri Lanka’s economic unrest has tapered down in recent months and the destination is safe for travellers to visit despite more conservative global perceptions, stated several hoteliers in attendance at ILTM Asia Pacific.

Padmi Fernando, director of business development, Cinnamon Life Integrated Resort, told TTG Asia: “Sri Lanka has been safe for the last six months or so. What we had in Sri Lanka was a local challenge, where the civilians were going through a difficult time, but it was never unsafe for travellers.”

Hoteliers are trying to attract travellers to Sri Lanka; Colombo, pictured

Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts currently operates 11 properties throughout Sri Lanka, across several of its brands.

Elisa Grimaldi, director of public relations and communications at Minor Hotels, agreed: “The safety of our guests come first, and we will never promote a destination unless it’s safe. Earlier this year, when the situation was calmer, we sent out a press release to share that it was time to visit Sri Lanka.”

Grimaldi commented that the company, which has three properties in Sri Lanka, is working on special offers to entice travellers back to Sri Lanka, which will be rolled out soon.

“As a hospitality company, we recognise the impact tourism has. It didn’t help that Covid devastated the tourism economy. We are trying to get travellers to return because this way, we can support our local staff as they rely on the hotel for their income,” added Grimladi.

The media also has a very important part to play in helping to shift perceptions of a destination.

“We are open for business. Sri Lanka is very safe tor tourists, and the major crisis (fuel and power) is over for the short- to medium-term. In the long term, the government would have to (find ways to) solve it. Sri Lanka has actually obtained support from the IMF (International Monetary Fund), but unfortunately, that message has not gone out to the mainstream media,” opined Jan van Twest, director of The Fortress Resort & Spa.

For his property, the majority of his guests currently hail from the UK and India, as the various Asian markets are “more conservative”, and “more sensitive to economic issues”, and are seen in lesser numbers at the moment.

“It always starts with the media. If they go first and start writing about what’s new and what’s happening, it’ll help to lure travellers back,” noted Grimaldi.

Fernando pointed out: “The world today is a global village. Everybody sees what is happening. We did face challenges in basic facilities such as power cuts, but the unsafe notion is a wrong perception (of Sri Lanka) that was created from the media (fuss). Sri Lanka is the place to visit again, and we are more than ready to welcome tourists.”

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