Facing a steep drop in tourism and the number of scheduled commercial flights in the wake of the Easter terrorist attacks, the Sri Lankan government introduced a number of temporary measures to help lure both airlines and visitors back to the country. Officials have slashed some airline fees, are waiving certain visa requirements and have even reduced the price of jet fuel.
The horrific Easter Day terrorist bombings this year across Sri Lanka shocked the world and had a chilling effect on tourism in the country. This week, government officials approved a package containing temporary regulatory relief designed to help entice air travelers to return to the island nation.
According to USA Today, tourism in Sri Lanka has declined by more than 50% following the Easter Day tragedy. The government predicts a nearly $1.3 billion drop in tourism-based revenue this year alone.
“By April 2018, 29 airlines were serving Sri Lanka offering 300 flights per week,” Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Chairman Johanne Jayaratne told local media outlets. “However, following the April 21 Easter attacks, the connectivity was reduced to 239 flights per week resulting in a total of 41 flights cancellations which amounts to a loss of seat supply by 8,000 per week from six countries China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Oman, and Thailand.”
On Tuesday, cabinet officials revealed a number of measures with the hope of reversing the trend. The move will result in an immediate reduction in the price of jet fuel, as well as deep cuts to taxes and fees levied on flights arriving and departing the country.
Sri Lanka will also restore a visa on arrival program for visitors from 39 countries. The program had been suspended following the terror attacks. The temporary easing of entry rules will not immediately apply to passengers arriving from India or China.
“This has been an ongoing problem for the past 12 years, and these three components have to come down to encourage tourism to grow,” Jayaratne explained. “From the response I got over the past 24 hours, the airlines are very positive on the move, and we will definitely see an increase in the frequencies. In terms of fuel, it was decided that we look at the prices in Chennai. We found that it would be the best price for us to follow. With regards to the embarkation levy, which was at $50 and was increased by $10 in Budget 2019, we have now decided to keep it at $50. All of this would relate to about 20% to 25% reduction in overall operational cost of an airline. When all of this is actually put into practice, we will be on par with the Asian region.”
[Featured Image: Shutterstock]