Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation, the pioneer National Ecotourism Society in Sri Lanka, expresses its deepest condolences and sympathy for the families of the brotherly Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu and all other religious denominations who have lost their near and dear ones in the brutal and horrific attacks on Easter Sunday that had caused damage to an unthinkable proportion.Colombo, Sri Lanka - 2 May 2019:
This brutal attack has been universally condemned by all sections of Sri Lankan Society and the International Community. That human beings could inflict such a carnage on fellow human beings defies belief. Sri Lanka and its people have been jolted out of the peaceful environment which they have been enjoying by the brutal acts of misguided individuals.
As for the official statements issued by the Sri Lanka Government, 360 people have been killed including 48 foreign tourists and 600 people injured. Three churches, located in Colombo, Negombo, Batticaloa and Kochchikade close to the Colombo International Airport, have been attacked by the suicide bombers. Besides, blasts also rocked the star class hotels such as Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand in Colombo, killing and injuring many including the tourists.
According to the Minister of Finance, Sri Lanka, the collapse of the tourism industry is the biggest challenge. The Government of Sri Lanka expects to contain earning loses under USD 750 million this year and the industry is expected to recover within one or two years. The industry now expects only 30 percent of the tourist arrivals forecast this year. These calculations are based on figures issued by the Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
The tourism drop will affect mainly small and medium enterprises, many rural communities who are engaged in home stay tourism business, operators of small scale ecolodges and restaurants.
Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation (SLEF) in association with its international networks and local partners have devised a programme to assist these small scale community based tourism stakeholders. Palitha Gurusinghe, SLEF's President, has told Ecoclub that the crisis management actions include the following:
- SLEF have urged the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority and the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau to assist SLEF to conduct meetings with the stakeholders of SME’s and Community Based Ecotourism sector, particularly active in the beach resort areas and in the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka, enabling the SLEF to meet the stakeholders and advise them how to cope with the situation and how to recover from the current crisis.
- Help stakeholders prepare proposals in case they wish to reschedule bank loans.
- Increase awareness about the "Green Loan Facilities" scheme initiated by the government which offers low interest rates and support stakeholders in developing business plans to secure green loans from banks.
- Promote businesses through SLEF websites and networks.
- Inform visitors through print and electronic media that Sri Lanka is now a safe destination and urge visitors to support ecotourism businesses in Sri Lanka.
SLEF believes the tourism industry in Sri Lanka is resilient to similar situations experienced during 30 years of civil war, hence the industry would bounce back soon.