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Sri Lanka is Finally Returning to Normalcy - 3rd update 08.05.19 

Dear Trade Colleagues,
If you are getting this update for the first time, it means that I have taken the liberty to add your details to our database. You will be receiving regular updates about Sri Lanka and what’s new with us in the future. You can unsubscribe from this communication at any time. This is my 3rd update to the industry partners on the #eastersundayattack and the subsequent developments. Links to the other 2 are given at the bottom of this mail. 

After 2 weeks’ of security concerns, Sri Lanka is finally returning to normalcy. 

Acting Inspector General of Police C.D Wickramaratne and Commander Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake of the Sri Lankan Army have informed the general public that the threat has been neutralised and to resume their daily routines. 56 suspects have been taken into custody and 12 of them confirmed as directly linked to the #eastersundayattack. Further 13 safe houses used by the terrorist organisation have been identified along with 15 vehicles being seized. 

Prof. Rohan Gunaratna, an eminent counterterrorism expert stated that, “Islamic State (IS) no longer has the capacity to mount a large scale attack on Sri Lanka as 95 % of its network in the country has been dismantled” and confirmed that the suicide bomber responsible for the Shangri La hotel explosion was indeed the leader of the local faction of ISIS.

President Maithripala Sirisena further reinforced the statements given by the IGP, mentioning that the people involved in this incident have been arrested or neutralised including the successor of the deceased leader of the ISIS faction responsible for the devastation - as a result of the intense search operations carried out by the forces post Easter Sunday.

Travel warnings were announced by many countries after the 21st of April 2019. There was a severe impact on tourism which is the third largest and fastest growing industry (prior to the attacks) in Sri Lanka. 

However, all tour operations locally are now reverting back to normal, as measures have been taken to ensure security in the country. Tourist arrivals have stabilised at around 1800 guests, on average, coming into the country on a daily basis. The confidence of the travellers in the safety of the island, is reflected by the arrival of 23 members from Wheaton’s Touring Cricket Club from Australia on a 4 match cricket tour on the 6th of May. 

The Sri Lankan Government has announced a relief package to the tourism industry in order to realign our efforts to develop. Being a US$ 4.4 billion industry amounting to 5% of the GDP, the tourism industry is a crucial sector of our island nation which accounts for 800,000 jobs. These concessions and benefits offered to the sector may help us offer more competitive rates to our partners for the same vibrant hospitality that Sri Lanka is and has always been known for.

As expressed in the previous update by Joeri Delbaere, Sri Lanka is a safe and secure destination once again for your guests. We have had guests even in the midst of this crisis who had a very pleasant experience in Sri Lanka. 

Industry partner update 01 - 24.04.2019
Industry partner update 02 - 29.04.2019

Thank you for your continuous support and solidarity.  


Anuruddha Bandara [ A B ] 

Founder / Managing Director 

Eco Team Pvt Ltd [ owning company of Mahoora Tented Safari camps / Big Game Safari Camps  / Ahaspokuna Bush Walls Camp
Experiential Journeys DMC Pvt Ltd 
Encounters Asia - Sri Lanka DMC Pvt Ltd 


Few Related Links: 
“A Positive Balance” for Sri Lanka TourismMedia Release and Forum discussion at The 6th World Tourism Forum Lucerne (WTFL), 2019
https://www.wtflucerne.org/mren20190504-we-are-sri-lanka
https://wtfl2019.wtflucerne.org/webcasts

The aftermath of #eastersundayattack for Tourism in Sri Lanka
http://www.ft.lk/front-page/Tourist-arrivals-plunge-50--70--post-Easter-Sunday-terror-attacks/44-677450

Easter Sunday In Sri Lanka: Crisis, Correction & Hope Author: Asanga Abeyagoonasekera
https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/easter-sunday-in-sri-lanka-crisis-correction-hope/

 


 

Latest Update On Easter Sunday Violence In Sri Lanka - 29.04.2019

Dear Trade Colleagues,

Today I am writing with some positive news.  

The Government has finally ended the night-time curfews in all but 3 remote districts in the East, where intense searches are still continuing with success.

Many arrests are being made in connection with the micro extremist Islamic group aligned with ISIS and who are responsible for the recent attacks.

The airport is functioning with normalcy, but with as expected, extra security measures for the safety of all concerned. There is a notable drop in tourist arrivals, but not completely discouraging. During the last week, around 19670 have arrived in the country, as tourists from countries which have not published travel warnings.

We understand the concerns of those countries that have published travel warnings but hope these will be relaxed in the coming weeks ,as Sri Lanka settles back into normal day to day life.

The tourists who have decided to be here are continuing to travel safely and are very happy about their decision not to cancel their plans.

Joeri Delbaere, Asst Product Manager from a leading Tour Operator of Belgium, is also currently traveling in Sri Lanka with us along with his wife and I give below the essence of what he said today in the morning. Their tour started from 21st April and ending 05th May.  

"We are absolutely happy about the journey we are on, starting from Wilpattu to the South via Central Highlands. So far, we never felt any danger or insecurity.  At all the places we travelled everyone looked after us so well. I think Sri Lanka is safer to travel even as at now. " 

We are so grateful to the Tour Operators who are keeping their clients calm, easing their concerns, and encouraging them not to cancel their tours for the months ahead. 

As pledged before, until further notice we have paused our cancellation policy and will guarantee 100% refund at any time to any client that so wishes.

I thank you for all your support and the solidarity extended to us at this difficult time.

Anuruddha Bandara 
Experiential Journeys - Sri Lanka


Latest Update On Easter Sunday Violence In Sri Lanka - 24.04.2019

Dear Trade Colleagues,

The country has declared a state of emergency since last night giving greater powers to the armed forces to do their utmost to mitigate the situation. They are actively investigating the situation and have been able to identify the Islamic extremist groups and ISIS links behind all these attacks and managed to stop possible planned attacks as well. Closer to 50 arrests have been made already and further search operations are underway.   The country has declared a state of emergency since last night giving greater powers to the armed forces to do their utmost to mitigate the situation. They are actively investigating the situation and have been able to identify the Islamic extremist groups and ISIS links behind all these attacks and managed to stop possible planned attacks as well. Closer to 50 arrests have been made already and further search operations are underway.   

We are a nation who went through a gruesome 30-year long terrorism issue and overcame the same successfully. Our staff and guides are more than capable of handling situations to keep our on-tour clients safe until departure. We hereby assure that we will take all actions within our capacity to ensure on ground client/s safely board the flight back home. 

We understand that clients traveling in the coming weeks would have concerns regarding the safety of traveling in Sri Lanka and we understand the concerns well. In the event of a last minute cancellation, we will definitely speak to our hotel partners and get the full refunds. We are quite certain that most of our hotel partners will not charge any cancellation fee. 
For tours starting a month ahead or more, we believe that it's good to wait for another week before we take any action. As a nation, our people and security forces ended a long-standing much more complex terrorism menace and we are sure the current situation will be controlled and come to an end in the next couple of days. 

In the meantime, We will send you constant updates regarding the situation, which you may pass on to your clients and agents. 

Kindly consider give us a few more days before making a call on canceling or postponing any of the future tours.  Unfortunately due to the crisis situation all our social media platforms nationwide have been temporarily restricted along with communication platforms such as WhastApp, Viber and Messenger. We at experiential Journies are available throughout for any clarifications and can be reached via phone or e-mail.

Anuruddha Bandara 
Experiential Journeys - Sri Lanka

 

 

Our policy in discouraging Animal Cruelty, Tourist Traps and Staged Tourist Shows

Animals Are Friends Too: Discouraging Animal Cruelty, Tourist Traps and Staged Tourist Shows

We at ExJ stay away from tourism experiences that are staged and involve animal cruelty and shopping traps that are contrived to exploit and deceive clients.

Even though some of the popular ‘attractions’ are not included in our programmes due to the above reasons, we have no objections in our clients making their own arrangements with our Drivers to visit these places.

 

Why we do not promote following attractions

 

Turtle Hatcheries

As this concept has serious negative aspects in terms of conservation, we do not encourage our visitors to patronize the turtle hatcheries, as not all of them are really turtle-friendly. We instead encourage them to observe turtles in their natural habitats.

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

When we became aware that the animal welfare standards there were questionable, we stopped encouraging our clients to visit the orphanage. We are pleased to observe that the Born Free Foundation has now adopted similar measures.

Elephant back rides – Habarana

There’s uncertainty surrounding the attitude of this place towards animal welfare. There may be a few ethical operators, but in general, we are not in agreement with how the place is run. We all would love a photo of us riding an elephant, but is a lifetime of pain caused to these magnificent mammals really worth a few fleeting likes on social media?

Traditional Village Tour with a Canoe Trip and Bullock-Carts – Habarana

This is a tourist trap where a lot of the trip is ‘staged’ for commercial purposes. Such fake touristic experiences will not give our visitors an idea of what life in the country is really like, so join us as we show you the real side of Sri Lanka. And at the end of every vacation, always ask yourself, “Did you feel that your holiday was ethical, eco-friendly, and reduced environmental impacts?”


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