War drums dampen Sri Lanka’s tourism cheer in the New Year

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is set to wrap up its best year ever thanks to a truce between troops and Tiger rebels, but fears of a return to war have made the flourishing sector jittery once again. Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is set to wrap up its best year ever thanks to a truce between troops and Tiger rebels, but fears of a return to war have made the flourishing sector jittery once again. The number of foreign holiday makers visiting this teardrop-shaped island off India’s southern coast crossed half-a-million by the end of November, compared to the same figure for the whole of last year.

Hotels, which had been reeling under the effects of two decades of intense guerrilla war, had come out of the woods after the truce in February 2002. Room rates have sky-rocketed, according to industry officials.

Five-star rooms which could not sell for even eight dollars 15 years ago are now being grabbed at over 100 dollars and hotels are posting “House Full” signs.

However, a bombing at a Bollywood concert here last week, killing two people and wounding 19, jolted the industry and reminded them of the “bad old days” when deluxe rooms were thrown in free to attract diners to restaurants.