The Sri Lankan Tourism Ministry has launched five new packages for Indian tourists wishing to travel to Sri Lanka. The packages are part of the Sri Lankan government' strategy to boost the rapidly declining tourism following the Easter Sunday attacks that occurred in the country earlier this year.
The attacks, which occured at three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka on April 21 this year left 258 dead and several hundren injured and tourism in the country dropped by a drastic 70 per cent following the attacks. Kishu Gomes, chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, said that the number of Indian tourists alone had dropped to 9300 after the attacks, as opposed to 2.3 million in 2018.
Chamari Rodrigo, Consul General of Sri lanka in Mumbai said “The ISIS has carried out more than 130 attacks across the globe, and Sri Lanka is the first country to recover within three months of the attack. We are expecting to achieve three million tourists by the end of 2020 with this initiative.”
The initiative, which is launched in collaboration with Sri Lankan Airlines, the Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) and inbound tour operators includes packages specifically targeting Indian tourists. The packages include discounts ranging from 30 to 60 per cent, covering airfare, accommodation, transport and other facilities.
Covering 12 Indian cities with 123 flights every week, the tour packages to Sri Lanka range from a combination of stays in Colombo, Kandy, Nuwara, Eliya, Sigiriya and South Coast with multiple options to suit any budget. The offers will be valid for stays between June 10 to , 2019 to September 30.
Ms Rodrigo said that the Indian government is going to resume the Air India flights to Sri Lanka from the July 15. India was the first nation to relax its travel advisory for Sri Lanka after the attack, some of the other nations that have also relaxed their travel advisories are Belgium, United Kingdoms, China, Israel and Switzerland.
“Sri Lanka has survived its darkest period and its now safer than ever, and our military assures us on this statement. We believe India is our elder brother and we are most definite that it would extend its help. The package is like never before. Our goal is to make our land a paradise.” John Amaratunga, Minister, Tourism, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs of Sri Lanka said, adding that the Emergency in Sri Lanka will be relaxed in a few weeks.
Mr Gomes added “Our county is blessed with beautiful landscapes, breathtaking wildlife and pristine places of historic and cultural importance. In the month of August, we will have a mega celebration in our capital for which we are expecting various celebrities from across the globe, including Sachin Tendulkar and Deepika Padukone. The celebration will also have attractions like a golf tournament and a surfing event.”
Answering a question about ethnic clashes against Muslims following the attacks, Mr Amaratunga said, “Muslims in our country live in harmony with the other communities. There were some incidents of hatred but they were curbed within the first few weeks after the attack. We don’t put the group that caused this terror attack under any religious ideology.”