To bring tourists back after the deadly Easter attacks, Sri Lanka is hosting international events and relaxing rules.
Sri Lanka’s struggling tourism industry is trying to bring visitors back after the deadly Easter bombings.
The country is allowing much lower rates for hotels, and advertisements of prices cut by up to 50% are running in its key markets, such as Russia.
Tourism, which amounts to 5% of Sri Lanka’s gross domestic product, fell off dramatically after Islamist bombers attacked luxury hotels and churches on April 21, killing more than 250 people, including at least 45 visitors from abroad. Travel advisories from several countries contributed to mass cancellations.
In addition to hosting international sporting events and relaxing a rule on minimum rates for hotel stays, state-owned Sri Lankan Airlines is offering special fares and pushing joint promotions with the government’s tourism board.
Reservations, however, indicate that occupancy will be 10% compared to 30% last year at the same time. But some tourists are taking advantage of the new conditions.
“I secured a six-night stay in a plush southern hotel for $200 which included complimentary ayurvedic treatment,” said 52-year-old Leif Ohlson from Sweden.
And there is evidence to suggest that the number of such tourists might be growing. A daily average of 1,400 to 1,500 foreign visitors are currently in Sri Lanka, up from 1,000 recorded immediately after the attacks, according to Kishu Gomes, the head of the countries tourism bureau.
That is still much lower than the same time last year when there were 4,500. However, some countries, such as China and India, have already lifted their travel advisories.
“We are expecting the recovery to commence. It is too early to say how fast and to what level it will be,” Gomes said.