One week on from the deadliest terror attacks perpetrated in Sri Lanka since the end of the Civil War, the country’s tourism board has revealed how it responded and outlined its recovery plan.
In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the tourism board has revealed that trained teams were deployed to the affected hotels, all hospitals and the airport to ensure all tourists directly affected by the attacks received the care, attention and assistance they needed.
In addition to the help desks at hotels, airports and tourist information centres, Sri Lanka Tourism set up an emergency hotline to ensure tourists and their loved ones back home had access to accurate information and the entire suite of emergency services.
Updated information continues to be issued via local and global media, social media, and foreign missions on a regular basis.
Sri Lanka Tourism chairman Kishu Gomes (pictured above) said it was important to review emergency response protocol in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.
He said the tourism board was focused on organising our response in emergency care and assistance, providing access to clear and accurate information, and working with all national and local law enforcement agencies and foreign missions to ensure the safety and security of tourists.
“Addressing security issues is a prerequisite for the revival of tourism, and we continue working closely with all relevant authorities to support all foreign nationals in the country,” he said.
“Sri Lankan police and Tri forces are working tirelessly to ensure the safety and security of all tourists currently in Sri Lanka. This is absolutely our first priority.”
With one in every 10 Sri Lankan families depending on tourism for their livelihood both directly and indirectly, Gomes said the tourism board is focused on ensuring that the right groundwork is laid to drive an effective and efficient recovery of the industry.
“We cannot allow ourselves to become paralysed by fear. Nearly half a million families across the island depend on us for their daily living; the impact on our economy must be mitigated,” he said.
“We are working to regain the confidence of global travellers and operators by demonstrating that Sri Lanka’s response to the incident is effective, while reassuring future tourists that all appropriate steps are being taken by the Sri Lanka government to prevent any future incidents and ensure the continued safety and security tourists within the country.”
Several high-level, cross-industry working sessions that included both the public and private sector stakeholders have been conducted with the objective of outlining the strategic framework of the recovery strategy, according to the tourism board.
These have been accompanied by a phased-out action plan with the objective of minimising the financial impact of cancellations, as well as maintaining and rebuilding the country brand, and managing the long-term impact of the tragic incident.
Planned promotional activity to go ahead
Sri Lanka Tourism has decided to continue all planned promotion activity to ensure the protection of the industry and renew confidence in the destination from wider global tourism communities.
Sri Lanka Tourism made its presence felt at ATM in Dubai this week, with the country’s delegation beginning day one of the event by observing two minutes silence in honour of the innocent victims, as well as arranging a book of condolence to be placed at the Sri Lanka pavilion for visitors to sign and write messages of sympathy to the victims and their families.
Furthermore, Sri Lanka Tourism will address the tourism community at the prestigious fifth UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism in San Sabastian in Spain this week.
The Sri Lanka Convention Bureau will also be present at IMEX in Frankfurt later this month. IMEX is a worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events – a sector that is a major growth driver for the Sri Lanka market.
The only tourism and travel fair in Sri Lanka, Sancharaka Udawa, will be held in on 7 and 8 June.
This unique exhibition, now in its ninth edition, is open to all businesses within the local tourism ecosystem and is organised by Sri Lanka Association of Tour Operators (SLAITO) in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB).
The 14th edition of The Lanka Challenge which flagged off on 20 April successfully concluded on 27 April at Suriya Resort Waikkaka. This event was organised by Large Minority in association with Connaissance de Ceylan, and sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism and SriLankan Airlines.
This unique rally saw 53 International participants ride in 20 tuk tuks across a 1000-kilometre route that track through Sri Lanka.