Drop in tourist arrivals

European tourists in Sri Lanka

A German investor, domiciled in Sri Lanka, said the Western Foreign Missions, led by German Embassy and the British High Commission, took Sri Lanka’s constitutional crisis as a reason to issue travel advisories against Sri Lanka, and it was the reason for a drop in tourist arrivals during the season.

Dietmar Doering, who is also a social scientist living in the country said that December, with its Christmas season, is the prime high season for Sri Lanka’s tourism. “During this period, the entire Sri Lankan hospitality sector looks forward to generating the most significant revenues of the year.

Last year, the entire hospitality sector enjoyed the arrival of large numbers of visitors from all over the world. Most of the hotels and guesthouses had a near 100% occupancy, which was vital, since the six months off-season marks tough challenges to all tourism-related businesses where overheads sometimes cannot be met, resulting in hotel and guesthouses closing down during the months of May to November” he said.

He said the month of December in 2018 would go down in Sri Lanka’s history as one of the worst drops of tourist arrivals. The foreign offices of these western governments issued the caution notice for Sri Lanka by publicizing these warnings on their websites which in return triggered all major tour operators to issue the publication of the Sri Lanka caution notice to all their travel agency outlets.

In fact, these tour operators for legal reasons are strictly obliged to follow their government’s warning notices and to avoid eventual legal claims from tourists who had not been informed prior to their journeys and who might have been victimized, however. As a hotelier, he quoted from two university students from Germany – Jennifer Schmidt and Alisa Karl – visited many parts of Sri Lanka during their December holidays.

“Prior to their departure to Sri Lanka, some of their relatives and friends in Germany expressed concerns in view of the German Government’s warning about Sri Lanka. The warning notice includes to urgently avoid public gatherings in general and not to come close to venues where political assemblies happen.

The two young Germans learned by communicating with owners and managers of guesthouses and hotels they visited, that these businesses faced a severe drop in occupancy for over 50%.

The reason for the drop was explained to the two Germans relating to government problems in the last couple of months. However, the German tourists enjoyed a completely trouble free, very memorable holiday in Sri Lanka and stated that the German Embassy’s view of the situation in Sri Lanka is by far not the reality.

Unfortunately, Germans in Germany will find it difficult to judge the real situation in Sri Lanka and have to refer to the false information given by the German Foreign Office which is based on inputs given by the German mission in Sri Lanka”.

On a second perspective, the real cause of the stark drop of tourist arrivals in fact was not the constitutional problems which Sri Lanka faced during the last months, but moreover the misrepresentation from foreign missions in Sri Lanka to their respective western governments. Noticing the German Embassy’s travel advice, that it warns people not to generally not come near public gatherings, assuming the dangers of being hurt does not reflect at all the factual ground situations of the past few months. Even during the constitutional crisis, which at the end found a very democratic and peaceful solution, not a single foreigner had been attacked, hurt or otherwise antagonized – even if they had been near, or even among, the demonstrating different fractions.

The demonstrating parties engaged in largely peaceful demonstrations and none of the parties involved targeted foreigners. The German warning notice is irresponsibly inflated and had caused massive negative impacts to the Sri Lankan tourism industry in general. In fact, the United Kingdom travel warning further advises that “terror attacks in Sri Lanka cannot be ruled out” which indicates a groundbreaking lack of knowledge and judgement of the real situation in Sri Lanka. For the last 10 years no terror attack had been noticed and especially no foreigner had been found victimized through an attack of this nature,” he said.

(Courtesy: Daily Mirror)

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