The Easter Sunday bomb attacks carried out in Sri Lanka have “directly implicated” ICCA member hotels, according to Sri Lanka-born, ICCA CEO Senthil Gopinath.
“We have seen so many disasters and calamities affecting people from around the world and tragic incidents, like the recent shooting in Christchurch,” Gopinath said.
“But never before has such tragedy directly implicated ICCA members like in Sri Lanka. We were speechless when we heard that The Kingsbury Hotel has been attacked along with other member hotels, the Cinnamon Hotel and Shangri-La Colombo (a former member).
“The entire ICCA family stands beside the people of Sri Lanka and we strongly support the MICE industry of Sri Lanka, in particular, our members and former members: the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau; The Kingsbury Hotel; Cinnamon Hotel Management; and Shangri-La (former member) during these difficult times. Let’s stay strong and support each other to overcome such situations.”
As a gesture of camaraderie, Gopinath announced that ICCA will pay its respects to the victims of the Sri Lanka attacks at the upcoming ICCA Asia Pacific Chapter Meeting at IMEX Frankfurt on 20 May 2019.
The attacks were carried out by suicide bombers in hotels and churches in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa. The death toll was originally thought to be 359, however, Sri Lankan authorities have lowered the number by nearly one third to 253.
In the wake of the attacks, the UK Foreign Office has warned against “all but essential travel” to Sri Lanka, resulting in the Indian Ocean island temporarily being in the same category as North Korea, Venezuela and Iraq.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt issued the advisory and commented: “We all hope the situation will return to normal very soon, and that the Sri Lankan tourism industry is able to get back on its feet following the terrorist attacks.”
He added: “My first priority will always be the security of British citizens living and travelling abroad.”
Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK, Manisha Gunasekera said eight British nationals were killed in the atrocity, according to AP.
Tourism is a major industry for Sri Lanka, accounting for 12.5 per cent of the gross domestic product, which provides employment to more than one million people.
At the beginning of the year, Lonely Planet named Sri Lanka as the must-see country of 2019. It’s a nation that has verdant natural beauty and centuries-old culture. However, the Easter Sunday attacks may well reduce international inbound tourism and most likely prevent Sri Lanka from reaching its target of 4.5 million foreign tourist arrivals by 2020.
AMI editor James
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