- A similar security briefing was held for Board of Airline Representatives
- India, China, United Kingdom and Germany issued travel warnings following Easter Sunday bombings
- Special Cabinet sub-committee on tourism to meet on Monday
By Nishel Fernando
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, as the first step of relaxing the travel advisories issued by several countries to their citizen against visiting Sri Lanka, has agreed to arrange a security briefing next week for foreign and local media by a military official, following the evaluation of the country’s security situation.
He made this remark while responding to requests of several members of the Tourism Task Force to call for an immediate a security briefing by the country’s security forces to foreign and local media.
The Premier has asked tourism industry stakeholders to wait for another week to gather more information and to analyse the situation, before reaching out to local and foreign media.
Sri Lanka also remains on high-alert over reports of possible terrorist attacks this week. The key source markets of Sri Lanka tourism including India, China, United Kingdom (UK) and Germany issued travel warnings in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday bombing.
Sri Lanka Tourism Chief, Kishu Gomes said that the booking cancellations has surpassed 50 percent since Easter Sunday, while the Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) announced that hotel occupancy rates have fallen by 70 percent country-wide this month.
The senior Army intelligence officer this week conducted a security briefing for the Board of Airline Representatives (BAR) which includes Emirates, SriLankan, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Air India and Cathay Pacific.
Following the briefing, airline representatives had expressed their satisfaction on the progress made by security forces so far in terms of investigations and ensuring the security in the country.
They also requested the government to conduct a similar security briefing for foreign and local media, pointing out that it would help build confidence of international travellers concerning the country’s security situation.
Several airlines had reduced their frequencies while others maintained their usual frequencies following Easter Sunday attacks.
A representative of one airline informed the government and tourism stakeholders that they had around 86 percent cancellation for this month while cancellations for June were around 46 percent.
However, despite security concerns and travel warnings, Air India representative has informed that travellers including tourist groups continue to visit the island. An Indian tourist group of 40 females has recently flown to Sri Lanka on Air India.
Meanwhile, the special Cabinet sub-committee on tourism led by Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga is expected meet next Monday for the first time to discuss measures to support the industry in the aftermath of bomb attacks.
The other members of the sub-committee include Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama, Minister of Primary Industries and Social Empowerment Daya Gamage, Minister of Transport & Civil Aviation Arjuna Ranatunga and Minister of Internal & Home Affairs and Provincial Councils & Local Government Wajira Abeywardana. In addition, Non Cabinet Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution Dr. Harsha De Silva was also appointed to the committee.