Tourism feeling crisis impact

By Heshan De Silva
Tourism has taken a hit with the political crisis as a number of tourists have cancelled their plans to visit Sri Lanka, likely influenced by the negative media coverage internationally.
A senior official of the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) who wished to remain anonymous told The Sunday Morning Business, that the current situation of the country is the reason for cancellation of bookings which were planned for the high season.
“Every person involved in tourism knows this political condition is the reason for bookings to get cancelled,” he said.
In order to clarify further details regarding tourist decline from India, Sri Lanka’s largest tourism source market, the First Secretary of the High Commission of India Niteen Subhash Yeola was contacted.
According to Yeola, there is a considerable amount of tourist decline in since the past two weeks commencing from end of October to 1st week November.
“We noticed there’s a noticeable decline in Indian tourists coming to Sri Lanka,” said Yeola.
However, when contacted to determine if there had been any impact on flight tickets, a SriLankan Airlines spokesperson told that, there were no noticeable increases in ticket cancellations from foreigners over the past two weeks.
“Our reservations remained the same with foreign bookings and it was normal without any noticeable cancellations,” said the spoke person.
Sri Lanka’s new Tourism Minister Wasantha Senanayake too said on Friday (09) that the on-going political crisis had no impact on the country’s tourism and efforts were being made to brief foreign governments after travel advisories had been issued.
Xinhua reported that Senanayake, addressing a press conference, said that the lives of local citizens and tourists had not been affected by the “political tussle” and there had been no cancellations reported by travel operators and agents.
“What we are presently facing is a political tussle and this will be resolved in Parliament most democratically. This should not reflect on the tourism industry,” he said.
Sri Lanka has welcomes over 1.8 million tourists up to October, but is set to fall far short of the three million target set by former Minister of Tourism John Amaratunga.