Deserted beaches, empty rooms: Sri Lanka tourism takes a hit after bombings

"Some airlines have also discontinued frequency of flights. Load factor is much lower than it used to be," Gomes said. "It is a worrying factor for sure."

By REUTERS
May 5, 2019 05:47
2 minute read.
A Sri Lankan navy soldier searches a truck at a check point in Colombo

A Sri Lankan navy soldier searches a truck at a check point in Colombo, three days after a string of suicide bomb attacks on churches and luxury hotels across the island on Easter Sunday, in Sri Lanka April 24, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS/DINUKA LIYANAWATTE)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

Sri Lanka's $4.4 billion tourism industry is reeling from cancellations as travelers shun the sun and sand Indian Ocean island after multiple suicide bombings that killed over 250 people two weeks ago.

Suspected suicide bombers from little-known Islamic groups in Sri Lanka attacked churches and luxury hotels in the country on Easter Sunday, killing worshippers, tourists and their families. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Tourism, which accounts for 5 percent of the country's gross domestic product, has suffered as tourists from around the world canceled hotel and flight bookings fearing more attacks.



"It's a big blow to the economy, as well as the tourism industry," Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said in an interview on Saturday. "For the economy to develop, it's important tourism return to where it was before the attacks."



Net hotel bookings dropped a staggering 186 percent on average over the week following the attacks compared to the same period last year, data from travel consultancy ForwardKeys showed. A decline of more than one hundred percent indicates more cancellations than bookings.



Cancellation rates at hotels across the country averaged 70 percent as of Saturday, with the capital Colombo taking a bigger hit, Sri Lanka's Tourism Bureau Chairman Kishu Gomes told Reuters.



"Some airlines have also discontinued frequency of flights. Load factor is much lower than it used to be," Gomes said. "It is a worrying factor for sure."



Tourism took off in Sri Lanka, which boasts of a 1,600-km (1,000-mile) long coastline, following the end of the decades-long civil war with Tamil separatists in 2009. It was Sri Lanka's third largest and fastest growing source of foreign currency last year.



Decisive policy and security measures will be important to revive the industry and support economic growth, the International Monetary Fund has said.



For now, businesses from luxury hotels to beach shacks are facing mounting losses.



In Bentota, one of a string of beach resorts south of Colombo, occupancy rates have plummeted, according to interviews with hotel managers.



Samanmali Collone, 54, runs the seven-room Warahena Beach Hotel in Bentota, where rooms cost 10,000 Sri Lankan rupees ($56) per night. Her hotel had previously been fully booked for the day when Reuters visited on Thursday, but when news of the bombings on Easter Sunday emerged, all of her guests canceled.



"There are no bookings: this week, next month, even in October, they have all canceled," she said, speaking in her deserted beachside restaurant where waiters polished glasses and re-arranged tables, but without any sign of any guests arriving.



Collone said if bookings do not pick up soon, she will have to let go some of her sixteen staff.



"We have had issues before but this is completely different," she said.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds an ISIL flag and a weapon.
May 22, 2019
UN envoy to Iraq calls for international support to prevent IS resurgence

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF