Sri Lanka aims at least 2.5 mln tourists in 2019 with ease of travel bans

Sri Lanka aims at least 2.5 mln tourists in 2019 with ease of travel bans


Colombo, May 30 (Xinhua) — Sri Lanka targets at least 2.5 million tourists this year after several countries eased their travel advisories which were issued after deadly terror attacks killed over 250 people on the island last month, a minister said.

Sri Lanka’s Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga told Xinhua that China is the first country to ease their travel advisory last week and Sri Lanka is expecting a strong increase in Chinese tourists from this month.

Amaratunga said that Sri Lanka is now a safe destination for travel after security forces apprehended at least 98 percent of suspects who were, directly and indirectly, involved in the Easter Sunday terror attacks.

He said security forces have ensured that further attacks and a radical uprising of this nature will not happen, and Sri Lankans can go back to their normal lives.

“After the terrorist attacks, China and several other countries issued a travel advisory asking travelers not to travel here. This is understandable,” Amaratunga said.

“Last week, I met the Chinese ambassador and assured him that Sri Lanka is a safe destination. I thank China, as they were the first country to ease the travel advisory and this will immensely benefit Sri Lanka tourism,” he added.

China has been one of the largest markets for Sri Lanka’s tourism industry with over 270,000 Chinese tourists visiting Sri Lanka last year, the minister said.

He said until April this year, over 98,000 Chinese tourists had visited Sri Lanka, higher than the same period last year.

More than 250 people, including over 40 foreigners, were killed after nine suicide bombers targeted churches and luxury hotels on April 21.

A local radical group, called the National Thawheed Jammath, was blamed for the attacks.