- Says seeing large scale cancellations from China
- Chinese account for 10% of total tourist arrivals
The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) yesterday urged the government to consider extending the moratoriums on all loans and interest granted by financial institutions for the tourism industry after the Easter Sunday attacks by a further one year period as all expectations of recovery have been adversely affected by the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak.
A THASL statement said the virus outbreak has resulted in large scale cancellation of bookings from China and concerns and reluctance to travel by visitors from other markets.
“Our priority at this time is to safeguard livelihoods of 500,000 staff and nearly 2 million dependents.
“As the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared coronavirus a global emergency, we have observed a sharp increase in cancellation of airlines operating to China and bringing about a general fear among visitors to avoid airports, travel and other public places.
“As the infected number and deaths have already surpassed the outbreak of the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), experts believe it will take at least 6 – 9 months for the world travel industry to recover from this,” THASL said.
China is Sri Lanka’s second largest source market and it accounts for 10 percent of total arrivals, and as with all other markets, it was gradually recovering after the April deadly attacks targeting churches and hotels.
“The industry is currently working closely with the government and the tourism authority to expedite the launch of the global tourism marketing campaign.
“The industry is also looking into the possibility of diverting visitors to Sri Lanka from other leading destinations in Asia that are experiencing cancellations due to visitor reluctance to travel to those countries as the virus spreads,” THASL said.
So far, only one coronavirus patient has been reported in Sri Lanka and she too has recovered well, according to hospital sources.
THASL expressed its appreciation to the government, particularly the Ministry of Health, all staff at the airport, the national carrier and the doctors and health professionals at Colombo Infectious Diseases Health facility for their dedicated service in addressing this virus speedily and taking necessary steps to prevent the spread of the disease.
“Our nation, on this occasion, as in the past, has amply demonstrated its resilience and its capacity to face challenges, however daunting, with strength and confidence.
“THASL stands ready to make its own contribution to the national effort at this critical time,” the statement noted.