Just four days before the unconstitutional coup on October 26, the small island of Sri Lanka was selected as the number one country in the world for travellers to visit in the coming year by world leading travel authority, Lonely Planet, in its “Best in Travel 2019”.
With more than 2.5 million foreign holidaymakers visiting Sri Lanka every year, tourism plays a key part in the country’s economy, responsible for bringing in an estimated USD 3.5 billion in revenue.
Officials had expected that to rise by around 10 percent in the coming year but hotels and tour operators have begun to report a spate of cancellations affecting the whole tourism industry in the country, official sources said.
The crisis has prompted western governments to call for parliamentary democracy to be restored immediately while forcing countries to issue travel advisories amidst negative news about legislators loyal to Rajapaksa rioting Parliament.
While no official figures have been given, deluxe hotels have reported cancellations and a critical decline in new bookings since the crisis.
“This comes at the worst possible time when people in Europe are making their holiday plans abroad,” a Colombo city hotel executive said.“We have had a lot of cancellations from the United States. With the political crisis, our winter season is gone,” the director of a luxury beach resort in the south of the island said.
“You should exercise vigilance and avoid all demonstrations or large political gatherings,” a British government advisory said.