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New Delhi, April 30: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has assured hoteliers that the government will give them maximum financial relief to revive the lucrative tourism industry hit by the country’s worst terror attack on Easter Sunday that killed 253 people, including 40 foreigners.

Tourism accounts for about five per cent of Sri Lanka’s economy, with India, Britain and China being the main markets. India is the largest source market for Sri Lanka, which received 2.3 million tourists from around the world in 2018.

Around 450,000 Indian tourists visited Sri Lanka last year and the island nation was expecting the total Indian tourist arrivals to cross one million in 2019.

President Sirisena acknowledged during his meeting on Monday with the country’s hoteliers that the tourism and hotel industries were worst hit after the string of powerful blasts ripped through three churches and as many luxury hotels on Easter Sunday, killing 253 people and injuring more than 500 others.

The bombs tore through three five-star hotels in Colombo: the Cinnamon Grand, the Shangri La and the Kingsbury. Forty foreigners, including 11 Indian nationals, died in the attacks. Sirisena requested Central Bank Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy to provide “maximum financial relief” immediately to the hoteliers, Sunday Times reported.

Hotels Association President Sanath Ukwatte said hoteliers had invested large sums of money in the development of the hotels and requested the government to provide a moratorium or waiver on the capital and interest for a period of at least two years.

During the meeting, the hoteliers also asked the government to hire the services of a professional public relations and communications unit to send out one message to the world. President Sirisena agreed to appoint a Cabinet sub-committee to look into the requirements of the hoteliers, the report said.

Sri Lanka has been a favourite holiday destination for Indian celebrities and a couple of months back both Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma were seen having a cool holiday there.

Agencies, (Virat Kohli, Anushka Sharma in Sri Lanka, Representative Image)

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