Hit by an unprecedented economic crisis, Sri Lanka is facing an acute shortage of fuel and other essential supplies. This has led to tourists scrambling to find a way out of this beautiful island nation.
Tourism, one of the major contributors to Sri Lanka’s economy, is now going to see its vulnerable phase post-Covid. The tourism economy in Sri Lanka was just reviving but the economic crisis has weakened it again.
The government in left with no foreign reserves due to bad implementation of economic policies and heavy debt.
The Sri Lankan government is not able to pay its bills to import oil and the fuel crisis has put a break on the entire supply chain mechanism all across the country.
The country faces 10 to 12 hours of power cuts every day. The shortage of essential items is forcing people to hit the streets in protest against the government.
An emergency has been imposed in the country, a curfew is in place and there are restrictions on social media amidst the protests erupting at several parts of the country.
Now, the development has made tourists apprehensive and they are concerned about the current scenario.
READ | Sri Lankan economic crisis explained in five charts
TOURISTS CANCEL BOOKING
Tourists from London Sharry and Anita were staying in one of the 4-star hotels in Colombo. They are cancelling their booking and going back to London.
While talking to India Today, Sharry said, “There are protests all over due to shortage of fuel… and we do not know what to do, hence we are going back.”
Anita said, “While coming from the airport, we took a train but the train stopped due to power cut more than four hours and we got to know the power cuts is happening because of the fuel crisis and under this uncertainty there are protests everywhere. Hence, my family is also concerned and so we have decided to go back to London or choose another destination for our vacation.”
While, Ishara, a reception manager at a 4-star hotel in Colombo, said there are no tourists left. Only 30 rooms of the total, 94 are occupied, including the domestic guests, and all future bookings have been cancelled by travel agencies.
Because of the power cuts, business establishments, including hotels, are surviving through generators which need diesel but is currently in shortage in Sri Lanka.
If the situation continues, there will be a massive job crisis in hospitality and the tourism industry soon fears Lahiru, a booking manager in another posh hotel of Colombo.
He said, “Our bookings are getting cancelled. The worst is that there is no future booking despite being the peak season in Sri Lanka.”
The tourism and hospitality sector contributes 12% of Sri Lanka’s total GDP. In 2019, the contribution of travel and tourism was 12.6% to the total GDP, which was an increase from 6% in 2000 and it was growing at a speed of 4.28%. It is the fifth biggest source of foreign revenue in Sri Lanka.