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Sri Lanka tourism stumbles following Easter terror attack

Analysis by ForwardKeys has revealed a tidal wave of cancellations has hit Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the terror attacks on Easter Sunday.

Three luxury properties – Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Shangri-La and the Kingsbury Hotel – were hit during the assault, along with three churches.

As many as 300 people are believed to have been killed in the assault, although the number has been revised down in recent days.

In the three days immediately after the bombings, cancellations of existing bookings surged 86.2 per cent whilst new bookings fell away.

The news follows a decision by the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office to advise against “all but essential” travel to the Indian Ocean destination.

In Sri Lanka’s most important source markets, more people cancelled existing flights than made bookings on the equivalent day last year.

In order of size, that comprises India, China, the UK, Australia, Germany and France.

Forward bookings for July and August, which had been running 2.6 per cent ahead of last year, as of 20th April, fell to 0.3 per cent behind as of April 23rd.

Prior to the Easter Sunday atrocities, Sri Lanka’s tourism industry was showing healthy growth.

Flight bookings to Sri Lanka from January until April 20th were 3.4 per cent up on the same period in 2018.

The tourism highlights were Russia, Australia and China, which showed visitor increases of 45.7, 19.0 and 16.8 per cent respectively.

Jameson Wong, director, business development, APAC, ForwardKeys, said: “At the moment, it is really too early to predict what the effect on tourism to Sri Lanka will be, as the initial wave of cancellations affects trips planned in the very near term.

“If we look back at past terrorist atrocities, it is interesting to note how different the impacts can be.

“In the wake of the bloody siege at the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi, bookings suffered a similar collapse in the immediate aftermath; however, within less than two weeks, international arrivals returned to growth.

“By comparison, it has taken more than three years to see a Tunisian tourism recovery following the massacre on the beach in Sousse in 2015.”

ForwardKeys forecasts future travel patterns by analysing over 17 million flight booking transactions a day.

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