The Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) yesterday condemned the growing number of incidents of hate speech against the ethnic and religious communities in the country, following the Easter Sunday attacks on April 21 and requested the authorities to take action against the people who create disharmony in society.
“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
Our admiration, tolerance and respect for other religions and cultures is one of the main reasons why visitors are attracted to the country. We were often referred to as the ‘Island of Serendipity’ by the ancient travellers to the country,” THASL President Sanath Ukwatte said.
The THASL stressed that ethnic violence and boycotting of products targeting a section of the community will not do any justice to the country in the long run.
“It has only brought about distrust among the communities, deep social divide and caused irreparable damage to the credibility of our country as a safe and peaceful tourist destination,” a THASL statement said.
“Multiculturalism, ethnic harmony and understanding each other’s cultures are embedded in us and we strongly believe these are essential elements needed to develop a vibrant tourism industry,” it added. The industry association further noted that 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.
“Tourism was on its path for record-breaking earnings this year and the Easter Sunday’s terror attacks and subsequent ethnic disharmony have created fear among the visiting public, resulting in the cancellation of holidays to Sri Lanka and leaving nearly two million livelihoods that directly and indirectly depend on tourism desolate and the economy in ruins. 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,” the THASL statement said.
Hence, the 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 the people who create disharmony in the society.
“As Lee Kuan Yew once said, ‘No amount of troops would be able to stop the trouble if there was real hatred between different communities. The decisive factor would be dependent upon the goodwill between neighbours’,” Ukwatte said quoting the highly respected Singaporean leader.