Impact on Sri Lanka tourism post attacks may be short-lived: Travel firms

Sri Lankan military officials stand guard in front of the St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade church after an explosion in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 21, 2019. Photo: Reuters
Tour operators are bracing for cancellations and deferrals of Sri Lankan tours after multiple explosions killed at least 215 persons in its capital Colombo on Sunday morning.

India is the largest source market for Sri Lanka, which received 2.3 million tourists from around the world in 2018. The terror attack at the beginning of outbound travel season will impact tourist footfalls at least on short term, say industry experts.

"The unfortunate attacks in Sri Lanka have happened just ahead of the peak summer travel season. Sri Lanka has always been a preferred travel option for Indian tourists. While it is early to quantify the impact of this incident on travel to the country, we anticipate a short term effect on bookings with some travelers preferring to shift to other destinations for their summer vacations."- Sharat Dhall, chief operating officer (B2C), Yatra.com.

Veena Patil, managing director of Veena World said the incident will definitely impact travel to Sri Lanka but she believes it will be temporary in nature.

Travel companies say their customers are safe and are monitoring the situation with local agencies. IndiGo is offering full fee waiver on rescheduling and cancellation of flights to/from Colombo till April 24.

"All our guests who are in Sri Lanka are safe and we are monitoring the situation.  Most of our tourists are holidaying in different parts of Sri Lanka such as Kandy and Bentota. We are getting updates from our local office in Sri Lanka and will guide our customers accordingly, " said Karan Anand, head- relationships, Cox & Kings.

"All our customers are safe. We have asked them to stay in-house. We expect that check ins for next couple of weeks will get affected as people will wait and watch. We are interacting with customers booked for next week and informing them about situation," said Sabina Chopra, managing director of RCI India, a vacation exchange company. RCI runs resorts around the world including Sri Lanka.

Madhavan Menon, chairman, Thomas Cook India Group  said our customers currently on tour are accounted for and safe. "We are in constant touch with our customers for reassurance and to ensure their safe return to their home stations," Menon said.

The island country has become a popular destination for meeting, incentive and conference tours especially after introduction of goods and services tax in India which made organising such events costlier. Sri Lanka also became a preferred destination as floods caused damaged in state of Kerala last August.

"It is too early to comment on cancellations but there are chances that some of them may defer," Anand said.

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