Sri Lanka tourism sector sees cancellations, extensions as Russia-Ukraine conflict intensifies

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ECONOMYNEXT – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has affected the tourism industry in Sri Lanka over the 24 hours since President Vladimir Putin’s deceleration of war. According to sources, a majority of new arrivals to Sri Lanka from different countries have been cancelled or postponed. Meanwhile, stays have been extended as air spaces go through disruptions.

Kamal Karunaratne from Ceylon My Dream, a tourist agency based in Negombo said some tourists have extended their stay.

‘’It’s only been a day, so it’s quite difficult to analyse the situation, but we have gotten tourists that have extended their stay,” he said.

Tourists are unable to depart from the island as the Ukraine air space was closed due to high risk.

“Around 100 Ukrainian tourists have extended their stay by two to five days, and five others postponed departure by a month. They want to rent villas and houses during that period and plan to go back when they think it’s safer,” said Kurunaratne.

President of the Hotel Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) M Shanthikumar said: ‘’Ukraine and Russia conflict will be a big disaster as people will not travel, and Sri Lanka’s tourist market is largely European.”

“There is no rush for Ukrainians to go back, as they feel much safer here,’’ he added.

While Immigration did not report any extensions on Visa for Ukranians in the country, Sri Lanka tourism has already cancelled a tourism promotion campaign in Ukraine.

Data from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority show that there were 9,883 Ukrainian arrivals to Sri Lanka from January 1 to February 10 this year, accounting for 8.7 per cent of visitors for the period.

Currently, Russia is Sri Lanka’s largest tourist market, with 18,044 visitors from January 1 to February 10, or 15.8 per cent of total arrivals. (Colombo/Feb25/2022)

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