Sri Lanka tourism stymied by attacks

Sri Lanka travel cancellations have piled up after the
Easter Sunday terrorist attacks that killed hundreds of people in hotels and
churches. 

An analysis by ForwardKeys found that in the three days
immediately following the bombings, cancellations of existing bookings surged
86.2% while new bookings plummeted. 

ForwardKeys found that in Sri Lanka’s most important source
markets, more people cancelled existing flights than made bookings on the
equivalent day last year. Forward bookings for July and August, which had been
running 2.6% ahead of last year as of April 20 (the day before the attacks)
fell to 0.3% behind as of April 23. 

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry had been showing “healthy
growth,” ForwradKeys said, with flight bookings to the island nation up
3.4% so far this year, highlighted by Russia, Australia and China up by 45.7%,
19.0% and 16.8% respectively.

Jameson Wong, ForwardKeys’ director of business development
for the Asia-Pacific region, said it is too early to predict what the
longer-term impact on Sri Lanka tourism, noting the wide variation in recovery
following other attacks around the world. 

“If we look back
at past terrorist atrocities, it is interesting to note how different the
impacts can be,” Wong said. “In the wake of the bloody siege at the
Westgate shopping center 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. We will keep the situation under review.”

ForwardKeys predicts future travel patterns by analyzing 17
million booking transactions a day.

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