DUBAI, REUTERS: Tourist arrivals in Colombo will fall by 50% over the next two months following the Easter Sunday bombings that killed more than 250 people, Sri Lanka’s Tourism Bureau Chairman Kishu Gomes said on Monday.
Tourist arrivals in areas outside Colombo will also go down by about 30% following the bombings, he told reporters at a travel conference in Dubai.
SriLankan Airlines’ chief executive Vipula Gunatilleka told Reuters at the conference that the carrier had a 10% increase in cancellations last week and expects that number to go up.
Sri Lanka faces a likely collapse in tourism following Easter Sunday bomb attacks on churches and hotels, which would deal a severe blow to the island’s economy and financial markets, and potentially force it to seek further IMF assistance.
Gomes said the tourism bureau was chasing a target of 2.5 million visitors in 2019.
“We will probably reach about 2 million,” Gomes told reporters. “We are looking at providing some concessions to the industry for them to be able to maintain their viability for the next few months.” Gomes said confidence could return if the military is able to give assurances on security.
“If the military can come out over the next few days and make a strong statement with respect to security that’s when we will obviously offer a bit of confidence and try and work against that anticipation.”