Colombo, August 24 (newsin.asia): Sri Lanka on Friday lifted the Emergency Regulations which were imposed after the Jehadist terrorist bombings on April 21.
The Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena issued two gazettes, one to lift the Emergency and the other to be able to deploy the army for internal/civil defence, in addition to the civil police.
However, the ban on the notified terrorist groups and the face cover (niqab) worn by Muslim women will remain, the State-owned Daily News reported.
Plea From Tourism Minister
The Tourism Minister of Sri Lanka, John Amaratunga, had requested President Maithripala Sirisena to lift the Emergency. Therefore, when it came up for its monthly renewal the renewal did not take place.
Sri Lanka faced nine suicide bombings targeted to temples and prominent hotels on 21 April 2019 killing 258 people including 40 foreigners.
While the Islamic State (IS) has taken responsibility for the attacks, the Head of Sri Lanka’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Ravi Seneviratne said that there is no evidence that IS was behind the attacks. He said that Sri Lanka’s National Thowheed Jama’ath (NTJ) was behind the attack.
Minister Amaratunga told the media earlier in the week if the State of Emergency is lifted, there will be an increase in the arrival of large groups to Sri Lanka, though tourist arrivals are picking up with a daily average of about 5,000.
“By the end of the year we would surpass two million tourist arrivals, despite the disruptions the country has faced,” Amaratunga said confidently.
Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) Chairman Kishu Gomes said as tourist arrivals gather momentum, they will hit the two million target for this year. “Last year in August we had 217,000 tourists visiting the country. This month, without this conference, our estimate is 155,000. With the convention, we are expecting 175,000 tourists. Month to date average was around 4,700 in August, but the numbers are increasing.”
Gomes said that year-to-date July tourist arrivals exceeded 1.1 million, and by the end of this month, they expect the aggregate tourist arrivals to be around 1.3 million.
He also expressed confidence that they will be able to surpass tourist arrival figures of 149,000 in September, and 153,000 in October set last year.
With four months left for the year to end, Gomes said the average tourist arrival Sri Lanka requires is 175,000 per month to be able to hit the two million target.
To give an immediate boost to tourism, 35,000 Bohra Muslims from all parts of the world are expected to arrive in the island for a religious conference to be presided over by their spiritual head the 52nd Dai-Ul-Mutlaq, Dr. Syedna Mohammad Burhannudin.