Sri Lanka economy, tourism targeted by Tamil Tigers: official

July 22, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s hoteliers say the industry is heading for the worst crisis in its history amid an ongoing internal conflict, while a senior government official said the economy and tourism was targeted by Tamil Tiger guerillas. Foreign visitors to the island fell 9.3 percent in May, hard hit by travel warnings, though intensive action by a restructured tourism promotional body and the industry may be helping ward off some of the negative fallout.

Tourism secretary George Michael said the government was now trying to hard to stop Japan issuing a travel warning against Sri Lanka, with the deputy foreign minister making a flying visit to Tokyo.

Worst Crisis

Srilal Miththapala, who was appointed president of the Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka last week, says the current downturn was “possibly the worst crisis” that the industry has faced.

Though he took up the position with “some sort of apprehension” Miththapala says his industry is ready to take an active part in bringing peace to the country by helping the government reach a solution to the problem.

Tamil Tigers have been waging a separatist campaign for the last 30 years, and a ceasefire formally ended this year after talks broke down a