A Sri Lankan hotel chain and ground handler has issued to a heartfelt plea to the UK trade to work together following the country’s terror attacks.
At least 250 people were reported dead and 500 wounded following terror attacks in Colombo on three churches and three luxury hotels, the Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand.
Jetwing Hotels, which has a sister company Jetwing Travels, owns 39 hotels in the destination and works with numerous UK tour operators to provide on the ground excursions as part of their holidays to Sri Lanka.
It lost two staff of its Jetwing Blue hotel in the attacks as well as one Portuguese holidaymaker.
In a statement on the company’s website, chairman and managing director Shiromal Cooray said: “It is with profound sadness and a very heavy heart that I write this message to you. I did not in my wildest dreams imagine that terror will strike my beautiful and peaceful island home just a decade after we ended a senseless war.
“It appears that sinister forces were at play and we are confident that our intelligence and defense personnel will do what needs to be done, to continue that peace and tranquility that attracted and continue to attract many visitors to Sri Lanka.
“This unfortunately, is very personal to all of us at Jetwing too. We lost a young couple, a telephone operator and her fiancé, a steward from our team at Jetwing Blue in Negombo. They were planning to get married this year and were at prayer at the Katuwapitiya church, when the coward carried out the deadly act.
“At Jetwing Travels, we lost one of our guests at the Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo. He and his wife were married just a week before and were on their honeymoon. They finished the first leg of their tour and was all packed and ready to fly to Male and were breakfasting when this happened. Yes, we are very sad and ask God to grant them eternal rest and strength to their loved ones to bear the loss. Please pray for them.”
Jetwing Hotels chairman Hiran Cooray said the devastating attacks would inevitably hit tourist numbers from the UK – the company’s biggest market – and act as a set back to business in the destination.
He said: “We were getting ready for our best-ever year in tourism for Sri Lanka as a whole. Sri Lanka relies on tourism. The only saving grace is that there has been so much compassion shown to Sri Lanka because this is a completely isolated incident.”
Alluding to comments made by the Sri Lanka government the attacks were a response to the mass shootings at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March, he added: “We are paying the price for something that happened somewhere else.”
He urged the trade to work together. “We must be united as a travel industry and support each other when something like this happens.”
Article amended on April 29: Number of deaths revised from 359 to 250
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