Whither Sri Lanka’s tourism in face of Aluthgama incidents?

June, 17, 2014

With Australia issuing a travel advisory to tourists to be vigilant when travelling to Sri Lanka following the sectarian clashes in Aluthgama and Beruwala, Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) chairman Mahendra Kariyawasam said that these incidents have not affected tourism in the areas as yet.

He added that May-June is a lean period for tourist arrivals in the Aluthgama and Beruwala areas and instead they mostly travel to the eastern regions.

“So during this period the hotels in this area are not fully occupied,” Kariyawasam said.

When inquired about the Australian travel advisory, Kariyawasam said that since Australian tourists to Sri Lanka are minimal this would not greatly affect tourism in Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, several prominent persons closely connected with Sri Lanka’s tourism sector who did not want to be identified, told that similar incidents would definitely affect Sri Lanka’s tourism industry.

They added that most tourists obtain information of their intended destinations through the international media and that they do not prefer areas of conflicts.

When heavy investments have been made on the tourism industry and expectations were high, clashes like these would be obstacles against obtaining the expected results, they pointed out.

While Sri Lanka has planned to attract 2.5 million tourists to the island in 2016, the government has already committed itself towards infrastructure development towards this target.

Sri Lanka earned USD 1.5 billion through tourism last year and has planned to increase this further.