Sri Lanka, elephants, tourism,
Elephants in Sri Lanka (photo: Sri Lanka Tourism)

Easter attack in Sri Lanka puts meetings on hold

The deadly explosions in Sri Lanka that targeted hotels and churches has led to the postponement of a huge UN environmental conference that was due to take place in the country.

TTG Asia reports that the world’s largest wildlife conference has been postponed in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka which killed more than 250 people.

Sri Lanka had been scheduled to host the 18th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) from May 23 to June 3.

Ivonne Higuero, secretary-general of Geneva-based CITES, said that the event has been postponed “out of respect for the victims of the recent attacks and the recognition by the Standing Committee, the Secretariat and the United Nations Department of Safety and Security of the time needed for the government of Sri Lanka to address the current situation in the country.”

India and China, Sri Lanka’s largest tourism source markets, as well as the US, the UK and Canada are among the countries advising their nationals to avoid travel to the country.

Tourists arrivals are set to drop by 30% and result in a loss of US$1.5 billion (€1.35 billion) in revenue this year owing to the attacks, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera told reporters on Friday. Tourism is the country’s fastest growing economic sector.

Before and after
John Keells Holdings, owner of the Cinnamon Grand hotel targeted by the April 21 blasts, noted that the latest incident will have a further negative impact on the tourism industry and other sectors of the economy.

The Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury Colombo were the hotels where suicide bombers, in addition to at three churches, detonated bombs on Easter Sunday.

Other than the Shangri-La, which has been closed indefinitely, the other two hotels and additional luxury hotels on the same stretch of road in Colombo are operating under tightened security, and hotel car parks have been closed.

Some 40 tourists died in the blasts, including foreign nationals from Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK and the US.

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