The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) has urged the Government to consider extending the moratoriums on all loans and interest granted by financial institutions for the tourism industry after the Easter Sunday attacks by a further period of one year as all expectations of recovery has been adversely affected by the outbreak of Novel Corona Virus (2019-nCoV), resulting in large scale cancellation of bookings from China and concerns and reluctance to travel by visitors from other markets.
The THASL, headed by Sanath Ukwatte, said that its priority at this time is to safeguard livelihoods of 500,000 staff and nearly 2 million dependents.
As the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Corona Virus a global emergency, we have observed a sharp increase in cancellation of airlines operating to China and bringing about a general fear among visitors to avoid airports, travel and other public places.
As the infected number and deaths have already surpassed the outbreak of the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), experts believe it will take at least 6 – 9 months for the world travel industry to recover from this.
Chinese tourism market is the second largest to Sri Lanka and it accounts for 10% of total arrivals and as with all other markets, it was gradually recovering after the April attacks targeting churches and hotels.
The industry is currently working closely with the Government and the tourism authority to expedite the launch of the global tourism marketing campaign.
The industry is also looking into the possibility of diverting visitors to Sri Lanka from other leading destinations in Asia that are experiencing cancellations due to visitor reluctance to travel to those countries as the virus spreads.
So far, Sri Lanka has only one affected visitor and she too has recovered well according to medical sources.
THASL expresses its great appreciation to the Government, particularly the Ministry of Health, all staff at the airport, the national carrier and the doctors and health professionals at Colombo Infectious Diseases Health facility for their dedicated service in addressing this virus speedily and taking necessary steps to prevent the spread of the disease.
“Our nation, on this occasion, as in the past, has amply demonstrated its resilience and its capacity to face challenges, however daunting, with strength and confidence. THASL stands ready to make its own contribution to the national effort at this critical time,” THASL said.