Sri Lanka safe for tourists, travel advisories issued after blasts to be withdrawn soon: Tourism Min

Sri Lanka Tourism Minister H Amartunga Tuesday said its government is regularly in touch with intelligence agencies to ensure that the island nation is safe, adding travel advisories issued in the wake of the recent blasts will be withdrawn soon.

"Sri Lanka is not in danger and I take full responsibility to say that. We have been in touch with intelligence agencies and it is completely safe. Business in Sri Lanka is as usual, schools are being reopened, children are attending schools, movement in the city is normal as it happened before the blasts," the minister said at an event here.

"It is vital for tourism as people want to be safe. I can give you assurance...we as members of Parliament think twice before going to a place where there are questions over safety so we have to ensure the same for tourists. Some of the travel advisories issued in the wake of the blasts have already been lifted and the remaining will be withdrawn soon," he said.

The Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit to Sri Lanka is a testimony that the country is out of danger now.

India had advised its citizens to "avoid all non-essential travel" to Sri Lanka, which is on high alert following the suicide bombings on April 21 that killed more than 250 people and left at least twice the number injured.

In an effort to ramp up Indian outbound tourists visiting Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Tourism in collaboration with SriLankan Airlines, The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) and inbound tour operators have introduced attractive packages, specifically targeting India, to revive the industry that had a temporary setback due to the blasts.

The packages include discounted airfare, accommodation and transport, including discounts from 30 to 60 per cent. These can be availed across the SriLankan Airlines' network covering 12 cities in India with 123 weekly flights.

The five tour packages to Sri Lanka range from a combination of stays in Colombo, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Dambulla, Sigiriya and South Coast with multiple options to suit any budget.

These offers will be valid for stays from June 10, 2019 to September 30, 2019 and can be availed through travel agents network in India.

"India has been the number one source market to Sri Lanka over the past decade and in 2018 recorded over 4,00,000 visitors to the island. The national carrier SriLankan Airlines operates 123 weekly flights from key Indian cities and we believe such offers are quick to popularise across Indian cities," said Dimuthu Tennakoon, Head of Worldwide Sales and Distribution (HWSD) of SriLankan Airlines.

Additionally, Master Card, which has over 180 million Indian card holders, has also come on board to promote the launched packages through their well-connected channels.

India has accounted for 18.2 per cent, which is 4,24,887 arrivals in 2018, a hike of 10.5 per cent from last year. In 2017, 3,83,000 Indians visited the destination. In 2018, this number increased to 4,26,000.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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