With the lifting of state of emergency, removal of travel advisories, discounted prices and free visas Sri Lanka expects a successful winter season ahead, making a strong recovery following the Easter Sunday terror attacks.
While welcoming the recent lifting of state of emergency by the government, Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga said, Sri Lanka in the last few months was able to neutralize the terrorist threat and consolidate its destination management with new and innovative incentives and welcome more tourists to the country.
“In a matter of just four months, our security forces have been able to neutralize the terrorist threat and declare the country as absolutely safe for tourists. With the lifting of the emergency regulations, all impediments to travel to the country have now been cleared.
“We can now confidently look forward to a very successful winter season ahead, which is traditionally our peak season. With the free visa programme in full swing and reduced ticket prices, Sri Lanka is now a very competitive destination for the international traveler,” Amaratunga said.
Sri Lankan travel industry representatives opine that the lifting of the emergency rule on August 22 comes as relief and hope that encourages more tourists to the country in the coming months.
Many in the industry are of the belief that it may prompt countries to soften their travel advisories against visiting Sri Lanka.
For example, the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry has relaxed its travel advisory against Sri Lanka with effect from August 26, 2019. However, they have recommended the Russian citizens intending to visit Sri Lanka to remain vigilant and avoid crowded places.
Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) Chairman Kishu Gomes believes Sri Lanka tourism can reach the target 2 million arrivals this year, given that the situation in the country has returned to normalcy.
He said that with more international conferences coming up this year in addition to the ongoing International Bhora Convention, the number of tourist arrivals is likely to increase.
It is expected that 21,000-25,000 guests of the Bhora community are to visit Sri Lanka from 40 countries to attend the international Bhora convention taking place from September 1 to 10 at the Bhora headquarters in Colombo 4. This is the largest single gathering of foreign visitors to Sri Lanka to-date.