Sri Lanka’s hotel sector yesterday asserted it will not tolerate any protests that will eventually result in severe negative implications to the industry, specially at a time when some improvement is seen in international travellers visiting the country.
The Hotel Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) said it is high-time the political fraternity stop with their “drama” and start looking into the best interest of the country and its people.
Several political parties, trade unions, civil organisations, and student movements announced this week that a mass anti-government rally will be held on November 2.
“If the protests are peaceful then it is fine. But if they are going to be unruly, and cause inconveniences to the daily activities of people and businesses, we won’t tolerate it. The authorities must step up to prevent any escalation of events,” THASL President M. Shanthikumar told Mirror Business.
“Whenever the industry is lifting its head up and coming out of a crisis situation, we are somehow thrown right back. These parties should understand the implication it will have on the tourism sector,” he added, reflecting the sentiments of THASL membership.
Following the mass protests that were held a few months ago, which forced President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to resign in exile, source markets of Sri Lanka tourism were quick to impose travel advisories against the country.
The move resulted in the island nation witnessing the lowest tourist arrivals for several months while its peers and competitors were recording multifold increases in tourist arrivals.
Even with the relaxation of the travel advisories, Sri Lanka has still not made it to the green category, which is the ‘exercise normal precaution’ category. It is currently in the ‘exercise increased caution’ category or the yellow list.
In the last few months, private sector stakeholders, the Tourism Ministry, and Sri Lanka Tourism kicked off several initiatives and stepped up efforts to convince source markets that the island nation is safe for travel once again.
With the talk of protests emerging once again, the stakeholders fear industry woes will worsen.
“We worked very hard to attract tourists for the upcoming winter season. We have many hopes for the coming week. The industry absolutely cannot afford any more negativity. The outcome will be disastrous,” Shanthikumar reiterated.
The THASL chief shared that the hotel sector has invested about US$ 15 billion so far, and another US$ 4 billion worth projects are on the verge of completion.
“Any negative events will result in pushing away tourists from visiting Sri Lanka. So with lesser and lesser tourist arrivals, which will make it impossible to maintain occupancy, investors will pull their shutters down,” cautioned Shanthikumar. (Shabiya Ali Ahlam)
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