- The Sri Lankan government is cutting airline fees in a bid to revive its tourism sector.
- Tourist arrivals to the island plummeted by around 80% after a series of terrorist bombings killed more than 250 people on Easter Sunday this year.
- The price of aviation fuel, ground handling, and embarkation fees will be reduced for six months at Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport, The Guardian reported on Tuesday.
- Sri Lanka had been named Lonely Planet’s best place to visit in 2019 before the attacks, and tourist visits were up 12% in 2018 compared to 2017.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
It’s been almost three months since the beautiful island of Sri Lanka was rocked by a series of terrorist bombings which were carried out on churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday, killing more than 250 people.
At the time, Sri Lanka was in the midst of a tourism boom. The island had been named Lonely Planet’s best place to visit in 2019, and tourist visits were up by 12% in 2018 compared to 2017.
Tourism had become a key component in the country’s economy as people came to ride the iconic trains through the tea hills, safari in Yala National Park, and surf in Arugum Bay. The tourism sector accounts for 4.9% of Sri Lanka’s GDP and generated $4.4 billion in revenue in 2018, according to Associated Press.
However, after the Easter bombings this year, the government cited an 80% drop in foreign visitors, as reported by AP.
- REUTERS / Buddhika Weerasinghe
Some tourism officials told the news agency that the damage to the industry after the bombings was worse than during the 26-year civil war between the Tamil Tigers and the government, which ended in 2009.
Now, in a bid to revive the recently up-and-coming industry, the government has announced plans to cut fees for airlines visiting Sri Lanka.
The Guardian reports that the price of aviation fuel, ground handling, and embarkation fees will be reduced for six months at Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport to increase the number of flights and lower ticket prices for travelers.
Tourist arrivals unsurprisingly plummeted following the Easter Sunday bombings, however, recent government data has shown that figures are picking up again: rising from around 38,000 arrivals in May to 63,000 arrivals in June.
Sri Lanka is currently rated level two out of four on the US Department of State’s Travel Advisory Levels: Exercise Increased Caution.
“Terrorists may attack with little or no warning,” the Department of State warns.
“The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in remote areas,” it also states.