Violence destroys Sri Lanka’s post-tsunami tourism revival

BENTOTA, Sri Lanka, Dec 31 (AFP) – Hopes of reviving Sri Lanka’s tsunami-hit tourism industry have been crushed by this month’s violence that killed more than 80 people and fuelled fears of a return to war, officials say. BENTOTA, Sri Lanka, Dec 31 (AFP) – Hopes of reviving Sri Lanka’s tsunami-hit tourism industry have been crushed by this month’s violence that killed more than 80 people and fuelled fears of a return to war, officials say. The December tsunami affected about a fifth of the island’s 250 star-class hotels but most reopened within months and were slowly getting back on their feet, although occupancy rates remained low.

The industry was hoping the truce between government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels that has been in place since 2002 would provide stability to help the security-sensitive hospitality trade in the year ahead.

But the sudden surge of violence in the northeast linked to the island’s long running Tamil separatist conflict has brought new jitters to the industry — especially after the Norwegian-led truce monitoring mission on Thursday warned war “may not be far away.”

“(These) headlines are not making things easy for us,” said Abbas Esufally, director of Hemas Holdings, one of Sri