“Sri Lanka will not be beaten by terror. We will take this opportunity to demonstrate to the global media, tour operators, airlines and the world that Sri Lanka is committed to security.”
Sri Lanka’s statement is loud and clear when it addressed the travel community for the first time at this year’s Arabian Travel Market. A week after the terror attacks in churches and hotels in the country that killed hundreds, Sri Lanka showed the world its resilience to restore the world’s faith.
In its press conference, Sri Lanka Tourism discussed measures taken to ensure the safety and security of tourists and outlines strategic plans to rebuild tourism stakeholder confidence to ensure the vital recovery of the tourism industry that supports one in 10 families in Sri Lanka.
“Sri Lankan’s are among the warmest and nurturing people on earth when guests arrive on our shore’s they become family,” says Kishu Gomes, chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism. “And when a family is hurt the entire community comes together to protect, nurture, mourn and grieve and heal together…this is our way and it has been our way from the beginning of time.”
“The promise of Sri Lanka is a promise of hope, of family, of deep awareness, of tolerance, of diversity, of sincere connection to humanity and nature and of generosity; we will live the promise of our motherland and we ask anyone who has ever visited us, relished our food, brewed our teas, cheered our cricket or just marvelled at the beauty of a full moon to become ambassadors of kindness and compassion everywhere they go. We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, support and solidarity from people everywhere and look forward to welcoming the world back home to Sri Lanka,” he continued.
Commitment to security
Gomes also laid out the emergency response protocol that was in placed immediately after the attacks by deploying trained teams to the affected hotels, all hospitals and the airport to ensure that all tourists directly affected by the attacks received the all the care, attention and assistance they needed.
Tourists already in the country and those scheduled to arrive in the hours and days following the attacks were also an immediate priority. In addition to the help desks at hotels, airports and tourist information centres Sri Lanka Tourism set up an emergency hotline to ensure tourists and their loved ones back home had access to accurate information and the entire suite of emergency services; updated information continues to be issued via local & global media, social media, and foreign missions on a regular basis.
With one in every ten Sri Lankan families depending on tourism for their livelihood both directly and indirectly, Sri Lanka Tourism is focused on ensuring that the right groundwork is laid to drive an effective and efficient recovery for this critical industry.
“We cannot allow ourselves to become paralyzed by fear, nearly half a million families across the island depend on us for their daily living; the impact on our economy must be mitigated. We are working to regain the confidence of global travellers and operators by demonstrating that Sri Lanka’s response to the incident is effective while reassuring future tourists that all appropriate steps are being taken by the Sri Lanka Government to prevent any future incidents and ensure the continued safety and security tourists within the country,” says Gomes.
In a statement, Sri Lanka Tourism says, “We are grateful and humbled by the resilience and generosity of all the tourists who have chosen to continue with their holiday in Sri Lanka and we are privileged to continue to welcome hundreds of new tourists every day since the attack. We must ensure wider global tourism communities have renewed confidence in our destination by persevering and so to this end all planned promotion activity will continue to ensure that our critical tourism industry is protected.”
It is business as usual for the country’s tourism industry. The tourism board will be attending several events and conferences to promote Sri Lanka. Several high-level cross-industry working sessions that included both the public and private sector stakeholders have been conducted with the objective of outlining the strategic framework of the recovery strategy accompanied by a phased out action plan with the clear objective of minimizing the financial impact of cancellations and to maintain and rebuild the country brand and manage the long term impact of this tragic incident.
A task force is in place and has worked diligently over the course of the last week. We are confident that a clear and actionable process is in place, resources are allocated and global expertise is procured to support the industry in its recovery.