Sri Lanka ‘on a mission to regain tourist confidence’

Kishu Gomes, chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism, speaks at the recently concluded Arabian Travel Market in Dubai

The Sri Lanka tourism sector presented a united front at this year’s Arabian Travel Market as it aimed to regain the confidence of global travellers and operators, following recent deadly attacks across key cities in the country.

Speaking to the press during a media event at ATM, Sri Lanka Tourism discussed measures taken to ensure the safety and security of tourists and outlined strategic plans to rebuild tourism stakeholder confidence to ensure the vital recovery of the tourism industry.

“In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, we rolled out our emergency response protocol; trained teams were deployed to the affected hotels, all hospitals and the airport to ensure that all tourists directly affected by the attacks received all the care, attention and assistance they needed,” said Kishu Gomes, chairman - Sri Lanka Tourism.

“Tourists already in country and those scheduled to arrive in the hours and days following the attacks were also an immediate priority,” he noted.

The tourism department set up help desks at hotels, airports and tourist information centres, as well as an emergency hotline to ensure travellers and their loved ones back home had access to accurate information and an entire suite of emergency services.

“Addressing security issues is a prerequisite for the revival of tourism and we continue working closely with all relevant authorities to support all foreign nationals in the country. Sri Lankan police and Tri forces are working tirelessly to ensure the safety and security of all tourists currently in Sri Lanka. This is absolutely our first priority,” Gomes added.

With one in every 10 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 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,” Gomes said.

Sri Lanka Tourism will continue with its tourism promotions at key travel trade events including the fifth UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism (May 1-2) and IMEX in Frankfurt (May 21-23).