Sri Lanka lowers tourist arrival targets, as Australia issues tough travel warning

Oct 20, 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lanka may still cross the half a million tourist arrival mark this year though falling short of targets, even as Australia issued a tough warning on Friday not to travel to the troubled island. Fighting between Sri Lanka government and Tamil rebels have escalated in recent months, with some attacks outside of the North and East war zone and in southern and central parts of the country.

On Wednesday, Tamil rebels infiltrated the Galle port, killing two people, injuring several others and destroying three navy craft.

The historical Southern town, which is also a United Nations heritage site, has been a hotspot for holidaymakers who flock to the beaches and resorts in the area.

Earlier this week, Tiger suicide bombers also rammed into a naval convoy of buses near the central city of Habarana, killing at least 115 people, mostly sailors and injuring scores of others.

“Tourism will definitely be affected after these two attacks, as they were outside of the North and East, but on the other hand, Sri Lanka has been through situations like this before and people have continued to come here,” Seenivasagam Kalaiselvam, Director General of Sri Lanka’s tourist board, told LBO.

Tourists