BENTOTA, Sri Lanka / COLOMBO (Reuters) – Sri Lanka's $ 4.4 billion tourism industry is recovering from cancellations as travelers swept the sun and after suicide bombers killing over 250 people two weeks ago avoid the sand in the Indian Ocean.
A tourist rests on the beach near hotels in a tourist area in Bentota, Sri Lanka, May 2, 2019. Photograph taken May 2, 2019. REUTERS / Dinuka Liyanawatte
Suspected suicide bombers of lesser known Islamic groups in Sri Lanka On Easter Sunday, Lanka attacked churches and luxury hotels in the country, killing worshipers, tourists and their families. The Islamic State took responsibility for the attacks.
Tourism, which accounts for five percent of the country's gross domestic product, suffers from tourists from all over the world canceling hotel and flight bookings to fear further attacks.
"This is a big blow to the economy and the tourism industry," Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said in an interview on Saturday. "For the development of the economy it is important that tourism returns to where it was before the attacks."
Toll for tourism Exclusive data from Reuters show that since the bombings of Easter Sunday, the bookings have plummeted at least 253 people, many of them tourists.
Net hotel bookings fell an astounding 186 percent on average for the week following the attacks compared to the same period last year, according to data from travel consultancy ForwardKeys. A drop of more than one hundred percent means more cancellations than bookings.
The rate of resignation in hotels across the country averaged 70 percent on Saturday. The capital, Colombo, has been hit harder, Sri Lanka Tourism Board Chairman Kishu Gomes told Reuters.
"Some airlines have discontinued the frequency of flights. The load factor is much lower than before, "said Gomes. "This is certainly a worrying factor."
Tourism began in Sri Lanka, which has a 1,600 km long coastline in 2009 after the end of decades of civil war with Tamil separatists in 2009. It was Sri Lanka's third largest and fastest growing city last year foreign currency source.
Crucial policies and security measures will be important in reviving industry and supporting economic growth, according to the International Monetary Fund.
At the moment, companies ranging from luxury hotels to beach huts are facing growing losses.
In Bentota, one of several seaside resorts south of Colombo, rental rates have fallen, according to hotel managers.
Samanmali Collone, 54, operates the seven-room Warahena Beach Hotel in Bentota, where the rooms cost R $ 10,000 per night. Her hotel was sold out the day Reuters visited on Thursday. However, when the news of the bombings on Easter Sunday came up, all the guests were canceled.
"There are no bookings: this week, next month, even in October, they have all canceled," she said, speaking in her deserted beachfront restaurant, where the waiters were serving Glasses polished tables rearranged but with no sign of arriving guests.
Collone said if the bookings do not recover soon, she'll have to let go of some of her sixteen employees.
"We've had problems before, but that's completely different," she said.
Report by Alasdair Pal in Bentota, A. Ananthalakshmi in Colombo, Simon Scarr in Singapore; Cut by Raju Gopalakrishnan