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Sri Lanka Tourism Recovering from Blasts


Sri Lanka tourism is slowly recovering since the Easter terrorist attacks shook the country killing 259 people and leaving a further 500 injured on 21 April.

The country’s vital tourism industry naturally suffered in the aftermath of the attacks, with arrivals falling 57% in June, compared with the same period in 2018. However with normalcy being re-established tourism numbers to the Asian island have steadily increased.

Sri Lanka Tourism on the Rise

In July some 115,701 tourists visited the country. While this is still considerably less than the 205,482 who travelled to Sri Lanka in 2018, it still represents a significant lift from the 37,802 in May 2019. All figures are taken from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.

The revival can, in part, be accredited to a relaxation of Sri Lanka travel restrictions from countries, such as the UK, which downgraded its travel advice to Sri Lanka on 6 June.

Watch turtles on Sri Lanka beaches

The Sri Lanka government has also introduced a series of initiatives to further encourage tourism to the country, such as reducing the price of aviation fuel, ground handling and embarkation fees for airlines. New regulations applicable to 48 countries, including the UK, mean that visitors from those countries in the next six months can get visa free access for up to a month.

Parallel to this, hotels and resorts across the country are announcing significant discounts on accommodation and services, making a Sri Lanka holiday a very attractive proposition.

What Happened in Sri Lanka Blast

A series of bombings in Sri Lanka shook the country on 21 April, 2019. Three churches were attacked in Colombo, Batticaloa and Negombo during Easter Sunday service, as well as the Shangri-La Hotel, Kingsbury, Cinnamon Grand and Tropical Inn. Later the same day, smaller explosions went off at a housing complex in Dematagoda as well as a Dehiwala guest house.

The Sri Lanka death toll was 269, of whom 45 were foreign nationals, and an estimated 500 others were injured from the explosions.

According to the Sri Lankan government, the seven terrorists involved were linked to the Islamist group National Thowheeth Jama’ath.

Travel Industry Supports Sri Lanka Tourism
Julian Carnall, Responsible Travel with Large Minority
Friendly locals in Sri Lanka, photo courtesy of Large Minority, Lanka Challenge

The moves have met with widespread approval within the travel industry.

“We have received countless reports from contacts all over the island confirming that life has very much returned to normal and they are eagerly awaiting new arrivals,” says Comments Robin Ball, Director of Bamboo Travel, who organise tours to Sri Lanka.

“We genuinely believe that now is an opportune moment to visit Sri Lanka as the hotels, National Parks and cultural sights are much quieter than normal. Added to which the hotels and lodges are offering discounts and value-added incentives, making Sri Lanka fantastic value at this moment in time.”

Huw Owen, founder of TravelLocal agrees.

“Sri Lanka is a dream destination, with its people proud of their beautiful and diverse island; they warmly welcome travellers to visit and to enjoy the Sri Lankan experience to the full. Through one tragic event, hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans and their wider family networks, all depending on tourism for their livelihoods, have suffered.

“It’s time for us all to help Sri Lanka and its people to get back on their feet by visiting this magical place with its superb wildlife, culture, beaches, passion for cricket, tea and coffee plantations and, above all, its friendly populace.”

Hiran Cooray, Chair of Jetwing Symphony and the Lighthouse Hotel in Sri Lanka, endorses Owen’s view that it has never been a better time to visit his island.

“Sri Lanka, as Lonely Planet declared before and after Easter Sunday, is the best Island to visit. Tourism offering still remains the same and warm-hearted Sri Lankan’s are even more eager to welcome discerning travellers to our Island. With slightly reduced numbers at our iconic attractions such as Sigiriya, Dambulla, Kandy and Yala, I cannot think of a better time for anyone to visit.”

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Mark Bibby Jackson

Mark Bibby Jackson

Before setting up Travel Begins at 40, Mark was the publisher of AsiaLIFE Cambodia and a freelance travel writer. When he is not packing and unpacking his travelling bag, Mark writes novels, including To Cook A Spider and Peppered Justice. He loves walking, eating, tasting beer, isolation and arthouse movies, as well as talking to strangers on planes, buses and trains whenever possible. Most at home when not at home.

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