Sri Lanka’s $4.4 billion tourism industry is reeling from cancellations as travellers shun the sun and sand Indian Ocean island after multiple suicide bombings that killed over 250 people two weeks ago.
Suspected suicide bombers from little-known Islamic groups in Sri Lanka attacked churches and luxury hotels in the country on Easter Sunday, killing worshippers, tourists and their families. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.Tourism, which accounts for 5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, has suffered as tourists from around the world cancelled hotel and flight bookings fearing more attacks.
Net hotel bookings dropped a staggering 186 percent on average over the week following the attacks compared to the same period last year, data from travel consultancy ForwardKeys showed. A decline of more than one hundred percent indicates more cancellations than bookings.
Cancellation rates at hotels across the country averaged 70 percent as of Saturday, with the capital Colombo taking a bigger hit, Sri Lanka’s Tourism Bureau Chairman Kishu Gomes told Reuters.
Tourism took off in Sri Lanka, which boasts of a 1,600-km (1,000-mile) long coastline, following the end of the decades-long civil war with Tamil separatists in 2009. It was Sri Lanka’s third largest and fastest growing source of foreign currency last year, reports HT.