Holidaymakers sanguine but hoteliers worry after attack in Southern Sri Lanka

GALLE, Sri Lanka, Oct 22(AFP) – Holidaymakers on the beaches around Sri Lanka’s southern port of Galle seemed unconcerned about last week’s Tamil Tiger suicide attack here, but industry professionals are shaking their heads. The three decades of ethnic bloodshed in the island nation have claimed more than 60,000 lives. One day after five Tiger rebel boats tried to shoot their way into a key naval base in Galle, carefree foreigners frolicked in resort swimming pools or sunbathed on the area’s pristine white sands.

“We’ve had British, American guests who said this was just a small terror attack compared to the ones their countries have suffered,” said one hotel manager, adding he had only 20 cancellations, all by Sri Lankans from Colombo.

While the deadly attack on Galle, the first in Sri Lanka’s tourist south in almost a decade, had little immediate impact, the tourism industry fears the cumulative effect of continued violence as the high season kicks into gear.

“It was not much of a military strike, but it did send a ripple through the tour industry,” said one hotelier, who said three decades of separatist conflict in Sri Lanka had arrived “on our doorstep”.

“All the hotels are greatly concerned. After a year