Colombo, March 19 (newsin.asia) – Sri Lanka’s Tourism Minister, John Amaratunga, on Monday urged countries to lift the travel advisories issued against Sri Lanka following anti Muslim clashes which erupted in the Central Hills earlier this month.
Amaratunga told newsin.asia that President Maithripala Sirisena had lifted the state of emergency and things had returned back to normal and embassies must brief their countries that the island was safe for tourists.
“I urge the respective embassies to lift the travel advisories as we want our tourism to pick up again. What happened was unfortunate but things are back to normal and tourists can visit the country once again,” Amaratunga said.
He said his Ministry would also write to all the Embassies briefing them on the normalcy and the lifting of the state of emergency.
He remained confident that despite cancellations this month by tourists due to the communal violence, tourism would pick up and the country would achieve its target of more than 2.5 million tourist arrivals this year.
“We can pick up on our numbers as this year we have many international events planned including an international gold tournament and international stage shows with international artistes. We can well achieve our target by the end of this year,” Amaratunga said.
The local Sunday Times in a report said that following the communal clashes earlier this month there were cancellations of over 5000 room nights during the course of the last week in Kandy, which is widely popular among tourists.
Quoting Tourist Hotels Association President Sanath Ukwatte, the report said it was possible that there could be an over 30 per cent drop in arrivals particularly from the West Asia.
Kandy hoteliers were scheduled to meet on Saturday March 17 on how they could overcome the negative impact created on the region.