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Lanka's crisis spurs cancellations at peak tourist period

December 07, 2018 00:00:00

COLOMBO, Dec 06 (Reuters): Sri Lanka's travel industry is starting to suffer the fallout of a political crisis in the middle of its peak tourist season, as uncertainty prompts cancellations by both business and leisure visitors.

Tourism makes up about 5 percent of the Indian Ocean island's $87-billion economy, but the president's sacking of the prime minister late in October triggered a crisis that credit rating agencies say has already hit economic prospects.

"We have cancellations in the region of about 20 per cent," said Chandra Mohotti, a manager at the luxury Galle Face Hotel in the capital, Colombo, which has about 200 rooms.

"Normally our hotel would be full. We are offering discounts because of the fear that allocations will not be utilized."

Peak season for holidaymakers from Europe, a major source of tourists, along with India and China, typically runs from December to March.

But numerous flight bookings have been canceled, especially from Europe, a source at national carrier SriLankan Airlines told Reuters.

"The crisis started just when tourists take a decision where to go," said the source, who declined to be named. "(It) has discouraged many of them."

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