Colombo blasts hit Sri Lanka’s 10-year long effort to revive tourism post end of militancy

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Published: April 22, 2019 12:59:20 PM

With yesterday’s blasts, the government’s efforts to revive tourism in Sri Lanka may suffer a serious setback.

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Island country Sri Lanka witnessed a major tragedy yesterday with the bombing of three churches and three hotels, resulting in a massive setback to the country reviving from the end of militancy a decade ago. Sri Lanka is heavily dependent on tourism, which contributes a little over 11% of its $87 billion GDP.

Post the militancy ended in the island nation in 2009, the government had worked hard to revive the tourism sector with the introduction of easy visa application as a measure to attract more tourists from neighbouring countries. Sri Lanka’s tourist footfall has been on an upward trend since then and was expected to continue in the near future as well. The country also bagged the much coveted best destination award by the Lonely Planet for the year 2019. In fact, it regularly features in international travel lists and accolades.

But with yesterday’s blasts, the government’s efforts to revive tourism may suffer a serious setback. Financial Express Online has sent queries to Thomas Cook, Yatra and SOTC regarding the impact the blasts may have on tourism in Sri Lanka.

The hotels and their legacy

Shangri La, Cinnamon Grand, and Kingsbury, the three hotels in Sri Lanka which got bombed yesterday are few of the five-star hotels in the capital Colombo. Even though Sri Lanka has a plethora of other five star hotels, Cinnamon Grand, Kingsbury and Shangri La’s legacy and brand name resonate with visitors. All three hotels are situated on the breathtaking Galle Face Green urban park, which also has its own historical and financial significance.

Cinnamon hotel chain was established in 2005 and now has 13 properties spread across Sri Lanka and Maldives. Located near Sri Lankan Prime Minister’s residence, Cinnamon Grand is the flagship hotel of the chain. The hotel was also a recipient of The Best Five-Star City Hotel at Sri Lanka Travel & Tourism Awards in 2007 and continued to bag the award for three consecutive years. Cinnamon hotel chain belongs to John Keels group, which also owns Cinnamon Air, an air taxi service.

Opened in 2017, Shangri La is a part of One Galle Face development project. It belongs to Shangri La group. Previously known as Ceylon Continental Hotel and the Ceylon Inter-Continental hotel, the Kingsbury hotel was built by one of the prominent civil engineers of Sri Lanka — U N Gunasekera in 1973.

Meanwhile, various travel aggregators have been trying to ensure the customer’s safety and safe return. “Our central Tour Management team is in continuous coordination with our offices on the ground, our partners, local authorities and tour managers in Sri Lanka to closely monitor the ongoing situation and will keep our customers informed with regular updates,” Mahesh Iyer, Executive Director, and CEO – Thomas Cook India said on Colombo Explosions.

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