Tsunami Information Management Centre - Sri Lanka Tourism:
It seems a bit wierd to read this press statement from the Tourist Board in Sri Lanka on a day of national mourning in the country. Bit early..although it is true that tourism plays an important role for those affected in Galle and other southern towns.
"2:30pm - 31st December 2004 : Tsunami Incident - Colombo, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka's Tourism leaders Pledge 'Aggressive Bounceback' more than 3,000 affected hotel rooms already restored
Sri Lanka's tourism leaders today pledged to bounce back aggressively to restore the industry that was growing at record levels before last Sunday's Tsunami.
First we saw amazing acts of human kindness from Sri Lankans from all walks of life. Amidst the most staggering grief, I heard so many stories of our people reaching out to touch the lives of our foreign visitors. In so many different ways, Sri Lankans displayed their true hospitable nature' said Mr Udaya Nanayakkara, the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourist Board.
'Now there has been an incredible show of unity from all levels of our tourism industry, a determination to bounce back and put tourism on the road to recovery.
'A healthy tourism industry will be the key to the recovery of our economy, the rebuilding of our nation,' he added.
'We have already seen operations restored at more than half of the affected hotels, restoring more than 3,000 of the 5,600 hotel rooms affected by the waves. This has meant that we can supply food, shelter, clean drinking water and sanitation to many in the affected areas, greatly lessening the chances of disease.'
Concluded tourism chief, Mr Nanayakkara: "One of the most heartwarming effects of this tragedy has been the attitude of our foreign visitors. "A large number have refused to leave the country. They have insisted on traveling on to the interior where there is some of the most unique attractions in the world, including six world heritage sites.
Tourism is Sri Lanka's fourth largest source of foreign revenue. It directly benefits more than 200,000 people and contributes about US$400 million per year in foreign earnings. Before last Sunday's Tsunami, the country was on track to achieve record tourist arrivals of 575,000 visitors this year.