The only tourism and travel fair in Sri Lanka is to go ahead as planned next month despite a clampdown on international travel to the country following the Easter Sunday terrorist massacre.

The ninth annual Sancharaka Udawa will be held on June 7-8 as a showcase for all local tourism businesses.

The event is organised by Sri Lanka Association of Tour Operators in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau.

“The main objective of the exhibition is to create a platform for small and medium service providers in the industry to network and build vital links with tour operators and enter the wider tourism industry,” the tourist office said.

“The Sri Lanka tourism industry stands united with the rest of the world against terrorism; as we mourn this horrific tragedy, we must move forward with our enduring Sri Lankan resilience to restore the world’s faith in our beautiful island home and our hospitality which is the heart of the Sri Lankan way of life.”

The attacks on hotels and churches killed at least 250 people, including eight Britons, and led to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advising against all but essential travel to the country.

The FCO continues to warn that terrorist are “very likely” to carry out attacks in Sri Lanka despite security being stepped up and a state of emergency being declared in the wake of the April 21 atrocity.

However, Sri Lanka Tourism chairman Kishu Gomes said: “Addressing security issues is a prerequisite for the revival of tourism and we continue working closely with all relevant authorities to support all foreign nationals in the country.

“Sri Lankan police and forces are working tirelessly to ensure the safety and security of all tourists currently in Sri Lanka. This is absolutely our first priority.”

He added: “We cannot allow ourselves to become paralysed by fear, nearly half a million families across the island depend on us for their daily living; the impact on our economy must be mitigated.

“We are working to regain the confidence of global travellers and operators by demonstrating that Sri Lanka’s response to the incident is effective while reassuring future tourists that all appropriate steps are being taken by the Sri Lanka government to prevent any future incidents and ensure the continued safety and security tourists within the country.”

Sri Lanka Tourism attended Arabian Travel Market in Dubai and the fifth UNWTO world forum on gastronomy tourism in San Sabastian, Spain this week.

The Sri Lanka Convention Bureau will also be present at incentive travel, meetings and events show IMEX in Frankfurt on May 21-23.

Gomes said: “Sri Lankans are among the most warm and nurturing people on earth, when guests arrive on our shores they become family.

“And when family is hurt the entire community comes together to protect, nurture, mourn grieve and heal together…this is our way and it has been our way from the beginning of time.

“We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, support and solidarity from people everywhere and look forward to welcoming the world back home to Sri Lanka.”

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