The devastating Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka, which killed over 300 people, have taken their toll on the country’s economy, with tourism bookings slumping heavily in the weeks following the attacks.
Still, tour operator Intrepid Travel says that it’s seeing some promising indications of the tourism industry’s recovery, with web traffic to its Sri Lanka tours webpages having returned to the same level as this time last year, and sales to the destination steadily increasing throughout May and June 2019.
“Sri Lanka is resilient and won't be defined by one incident," said Ryan Turner, General Manager at Peak DMC Sri Lanka, which manages Intrepid’s local operations. "The country will benefit from the large number of travelers who want to support it through tourism dollars and learn more about the destination, something we've already seen happen with places like Paris and Turkey.”
Tourism is of vital importance to Sri Lanka’s economy, with millions of citizens relying on the industry to provide their living. In an assessment of the nation’s economic factors and the reduction of poverty prior to the attacks, the World Bank wrote that, “Sri Lanka is a fast-growing tourist destination and the tourism sector could help accelerate poverty reduction as it is labor-intensive, requires relatively low investment, and thus holds great potential to create jobs for youth and women.”
According to Reuters, tourism was Sri Lanka’s largest and fastest-growing source of foreign currency in 2018.
To aid in the efforts at tourism recovery, the Sri Lankan government announced this week that it is slashing aviation fuel and embarkation taxes, and lowering airlines’ handling charges to help reduce airfare costs.
For its part, Intrepid is offering 25 percent off all of its tours to Sri Lanka, with sales dates from July 17 through August 12, 2019, for travel between July 17 and October 31, 2019.
Its “Circle Sri Lanka” fifteen-day itinerary takes visitors from one end of the island to the other, stopping at astounding locations like the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa; Kandy, where sits the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic; a ruined fort at Sigiriya, where guests can climb to the top of Lion Rock; lush tea plantations; quaint fishing towns; and the crystal-clear beach at Mirissa.
Foodies can indulge in the twelve-day “Sri Lanka Real Food Adventure”, which offers opportunities to spend time with locals who are keen to share their love of Sri Lankan cuisine; discover feasts featuring a rainbow of exotic spices and vibrant vegetables; sample flavorful curries and sweet desserts; visit the authentic Negombo seafood market for the day’s fresh catches; or soak up the local scenery while sipping a glass of arak, Sri Lanka's signature liquor.
There’s also a twelve-day “Sri Lanka Family Holiday Tour”, which introduces travelers to sweeping views of the outlying terrain from Sigiriya's rock-top fortress; Uda Walawe National Park, where they can spy elephants in their natural habitat; take lessons in traditional Kandyan dance from locals; and squeeze in some beach time along the pristine, palm-fringed sands of Mirissa.