This year’s Easter attacks in Sri Lanka that killed more than 250 and wounded 500 took a toll on the country’s tourism industry and now, three months later, Intrepid Travel, an adventure travel company, is seeing signs of recovery.
The explosions struck in Colombo, the capital; Negombo, a town north of the capital; and in Batticaloa, on the east coast. Churches, hotels, and a housing development were targeted.
“Following the Sri Lanka Easter attacks, the rebound in interest to visit the country tells me, and our businesses, that we have extremely open-minded, curious, and compassionate travelers who don’t want to make a sweeping opinion of a beautiful country based on one specific incident, but want to break down barriers and learn more about Sri Lanka by spending time in the country and with local people,” explains Michael Edwards, Intrepid Travel’s managing director in North America and Europe.
Web traffic to Intrepid’s Sri Lanka trip pages has now returned to where they were at the same time last year with sales steadily increasing in May and June 2019. It’s a promising sign, and helping matters more, the Sri Lankan government announced this week that it’s decreasing handling charges for airlines and slashing aviation fuel and embarkation taxes, which will reduce airfare costs.
“Our local operations team was able to easily and effectively reroute tours, ensuring our travelers still had a positive experience despite the tragic events that occurred,” says Edwards. “For our inquiring travelers, our local knowledge provides reassurance that they can safely visit the country. The positive feedback and continuing interest in the region tells a story of our travelers. They are open and want to get back to the country, so they can not only see its beauty but also give back to local people.”
Edwards is optimistic about the future. “As the local government decreases flight taxes and businesses like ours continue to create tours in the region, I foresee incredible opportunity for the country to benefit from the large number of travelers who want to support and learn more about the destination. We’ve seen this happen with places like Paris and Turkey. One incident doesn’t define an entire country; these destinations are resilient, and people want to support them through their tourism dollars. Travelers and countries are quick to rebound, so with a bit more time, I firmly believe the country will be on travelers’ top lists of destinations to visit once again.”
Intrepid’s tours are locally-led small trips that focus on the wilderness, adventure, and food. They include:
- The 12-day Sri Lanka Expedition: Wilderness & Wildlife in Sri Lanka’s North itinerary which, takes guests to the the elephant inhabited forest in Wasgamuwa National Park, the lofty mountains of Gal Oya National Park, and the misty Sinharaja Forest Reserve. Rates for this itinerary start at $1,548 pp.
- The 12-day Sri Lanka Family Holiday itinerary showcases the area’s religious relics, villages, and Udawalawe National Park with its leopards, monkeys, and elephants. Rates start at $1,441 pp.
- The Sri Lanka Food Adventure is a 12-day journey where travelers dive in to the local cuisine as they dine on seafood and curries as they feast with local Sri Lankans who share stories over shared-meal experiences. Rates start at $1,832 pp.
For more information, visit intrepidtravel.com.