Floods: Hotels and tourists not affected | Sunday Observer

Floods: Hotels and tourists not affected

Sri Lanka Tourism industry officials acknowledged that prior warning and preventive measures could have helped mitigate the impact of landslides and floods that wrecked havoc in many parts of the island.

The officials were quite relieved that there were no hotels or tourists affected by the calamity.

Minister of Tourism Development, John Amaratunga said, “I accept that the country should have been more vigilant and there should have been preventive measures which would have saved more lives and reduced damage to property.”

“If we do not have sophisticated scientific methods and the technology we need to get them down from countries that have them and ensure that there won’t be a recurrence of such disasters,” he said.

Journalists pointed out that there was no room for complacency and that a cue should be taken from Bangladesh which evacuated over one million people before the storms hit the country.

Torrential rains that lashed across many districts last month brought grief to a large number of people whose homes were buried under soil and their loved ones drowned in the floods. While the death toll continued to rise, scores were reported missing.

However, tourism industry officials were glad that neither a single hotel nor a tourist was affected by the inclement weather and went on to downplay the adverse reports about the weather in the country in the international media.

“The situation in the country was blown out of proportion by certain foreign media reports, stirring fear among tourists planning to visit the country. We are not deterred by such adverse reports aimed at promoting other destinations. All we have to say is Sri Lanka is a safe place for tourists,” Amaratunga said. Cancellation of bookings had taken place following adverse reports about the weather in the country.

Despite the dip in tourist arrivals in March and the lean season till the end this month, the industry is confident it could reach its revenue and arrival targets this year.

The number of arrivals dropped by 2.5 percent in March compared to the corresponding period last year according to Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) data. The decline in arrivals was attributed to the partial closure of the airport during the first four months this year. “The situation is returning to normal and the four boards of Sri Lanka Tourism will donate Rs. 500,000 each to support the relief efforts of the government,” the minister said.