What a beautiful place Sri Lanka is for tourists and travelers! For most travelers looking to enjoy a summer vacation with family and loved ones, Sri Lanka has been a hot favorite, so much so that Lonely Planet’s travel guide had recommended it as this year’s number 1 tourist destination to visit. With its delectable cuisine, exotic wildlife and national parks, fun-filled beaches where vibrant surfing activities come alive and timeless structures that showcase revered places of worship, Sri Lanka had something special for every kind of traveler!
Following the devastation caused by the decades-old civil war, the country had gradually stumbled towards progress. The island nation’s fragile economic recovery sent out a strong message to the international community that this is a friendly place worth visiting.
Then came the tragic April 21 suicide bombings that killed more than 250 people. With this tragedy, the nation’s $4 billion tourism industry is severely hit, impacting 12 percent of the country’s total workforce who are engaged in the tourism industry for their livelihood. For Sri Lanka, tourism is the third biggest source of foreign exchange, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
In the aftermath of the deadly suicide bombings, Kishu Gomes, the chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism, has already made an appeal to tourists to visit the nation as “the promise of Sri Lanka is one of hope, of family, diversity, a sincere connection to humanity and Nature…we look forward to welcoming the world back home to Sri Lanka.”
Sri Lanka Tourism, according to its Chairman’s reassuring statement, is focused on organizing a response to emergency care, providing accurate information and working with all national and local enforcement agencies as well as foreign missions to ensure the security of tourists in the country. Simply put, Sri Lanka wants tourists to come visiting again and promises that nothing will compromise their safety and security. However, several challenges remain at the ground level.
Sharing his views in a ‘Daily News’ column, James Exton, a British citizen, has suggested several tourist-friendly measures that the government of Sri Lanka can announce to bring back more tourists. Some of the suggestions include offering lower airfares on its national air carrier, reducing the landing charges that are applicable to foreign airlines and waiving tourist visa fee, among others.
Countries including the UK, US, Australia, Canada, and India have issued travel advisories. According to a new report. China, a key investor in the island nation, has warned citizens to avoid traveling to Sri Lanka on the website of the Colombo-based Chinese embassy.
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Meanwhile, Indian tourists too are looking at other destinations such as Bhutan, Thailand and scenic tourist spots in the North Eastern region such as Sikkim, Meghalaya, and Assam. There is considerable interest in Andamans and Nicobar islands and Ladakh as well.
With temperatures on the rise, these scenic destinations are sure to enchant travelers who are either postponing a trip to Sri Lanka or have already canceled their travel plans to the island nation.