- THASL says cancellations on the rise post Easter Sunday mayhem
- Calls on Govt. for monetary support to maintain livelihood of hotel employees
By Charumini de Silva
Tourist hotels yesterday said that the deadly Easter Sunday attacks would have a major blow on the entire tourism industry, where they forecast a $ 1.5 billion revenue loss this year.
“This is the first-ever time the terrorists have targeted and attacked tourists, particularly hotels. From the immediate reactions, we are estimating that there will be a massive loss of $ 1.5 billion in tourism earnings this year,” The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) President Sanath Ukwatte told the Daily FT.
Tourism is Sri Lanka’s third largest foreign exchange earner of $4.4 billion last year, up 11.6% from 2017. The industry expected three million tourist arrivals and revenue of $ 5 billion this year with Lonely Planet naming Sri Lanka as the number one destination to travel to in 2019.
Citing examples of similar terrorist attacks that took place in countries such as Bali, Brussels, Egypt and Turkey, he emphasised that the repercussions were colossal on the industry and economy as a whole.
“Considering this devastating situation to the industry, we request the Government to step in and help the hoteliers with monetary concessions to maintain the livelihood of thousands of our employees,” Ukwatte said.
According to Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM), around 135,000 to 150,000 people are directly employed in the hotel industry.
He also stressed that there were many cancellations of hotel bookings after the Easter Sunday suicide attacks in eight locations that shook the entire nation, killing over 350 people and injuring over 500.
“We are unable to provide any statistics as yet on the cancellations of hotel reservations, but it’s on the rise,” he admitted.
Ukwatte also urged the Government to convince the world that it had the capability to ensure the safety of Sri Lanka.
“It is important to assure the global community that national security is at its best and all the hotels as well as all tourist destinations are protected from any possible threats or attacks,” he pointed out.
Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka increased at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 18% during the past 10 years, to 2.3 million visitors in 2018 from 654,476 in 2010.
Tourist arrivals in March 2019 improved by 4.7% to 244,328, bringing the cumulative first quarter figure to 740,600, reflecting a 4.6% growth year-on-year.(CDS)