Colombo, July 4 – The Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) has vehemently condemned the growing number of anti-Muslim incidents, including hate speech, rampaging across Sri Lanka and warned it could impact the tourism industry and dent Sri Lanka’s reputation as a tolerant and friendly destination.
THASL President Sanath Ukwatte in a statement said the growing number of incidents of hate speech against ethnic and religious communities in the country was deeply concerning, the Daily FT reported.
“We condemn all acts of terrorism and extremist action by groups, which is contrary to the well-known fact that Sri Lanka is one of the most tolerant and friendliest countries in the world. Our admiration, tolerance and respect for other religions and cultures are one of the main reasons why visitors are attracted to the country, we were often referred to as the “Island of Serendipity” by ancient travellers to the country,” the statement said.
Multiculturalism, ethnic harmony and understanding different cultures is embedded in Sri Lankans and THASL strongly believes these are essential elements needed to develop a vibrant tourism industry. The statement warned hate speech, ethnic violence and boycotting of products targeting a section of the community will not bode well for the country in the long run as it only increases distrust among communities, deepens social divides and cause irreparable damage to the credibility of Sri Lanka as a safe and peaceful tourist destination.
“As tourism is one of the most sensitive industries in the world, any type of disturbance and disharmony among people has a very significant impact on the industry as we are experiencing today. Tourism was aiming for record-breaking earnings this year and the Easter Sunday terror attacks and subsequent ethnic disharmony has created fear among tourists, resulting in the cancellation of holidays to Sri Lanka and leaving nearly two million livelihoods that directly and indirectly depend on tourism desolate, the statement added.
“We, as a country must collectively take responsibility and protect our country from going back to the dark era in our history where we fought terrorism for nearly three decades. We want the country to prosper, economy and industries to grow to reach their full potential and build a society based on mutual respect where our future generations can live in harmony. The only way we can achieve this is by uniting as one.”
THASL requested the Government to take urgent action to implement all applicable laws and regulations to prevent the perpetration of hate speech, racial or religious discrimination and take quick action against people who create disharmony in society.
THASL strongly believes Sri Lankans need to live in harmony in a multi-ethnic, multi-racial and multi-religious nation, and condemns any act which is contrary to this belief.