The crisis situation in the north and east of Sri Lanka has resulted in the large scale movement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to safe areas, during the past several days from the beginning of this week. This has necessitated emergency action to provide food and other basic necessities for the IDPs.
The President of Sri Lanka, H E Mahinda Rajapaksa discussed the matter with the Minister of Tourism, Hon. Milinda Moragoda and asked Sri Lanka Tourism to respond to the situation. Given these circumstances, Sri Lanka Tourism officials have been in touch with the Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) and individual hoteliers, since the night of Wednesday 22 April.
Among the institutions contacted by Sri Lanka Tourism, are leading city hotels in Colombo, including Cinnamon Grand, Trans Asia, Ceylon Continental, Galle Face Hotel, Hilton Colombo, Galadari Hotel, Taj Samudra Hotel, Holiday Inn, and Mt. Lavinia Hotel, who readily brought in food supplies. Furthermore, hotels to the north of Colombo, Club Hotel Dolphin, Browns Beach Hotel, Gold de Sand Hotel, Blue Oceanic Hotel, The Beach Hotel, and Ranwali Hotel as well as hotels to the south of Colombo, Bentota Beach and Serendib Hotels, contributed with providing edibles. The Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM) also assisted in this worthy venture.
The industry responded by providing food parcels and bakery items that have a longer shelf life, and could be handled and distributed with ease. These items have already been dispatched by air to the North. Furthermore, arrangements are being made by Ceylon Agro Industries Ltd (Prima) and Perera and Sons, to provide more bakery products, to be air lifted on Friday. Another consignment of bakery items will be provided by Brandix Lanka Limited, to be air lifted on Saturday.
On the instructions of the Hon. Minister Moragoda, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism Mr George Michael, made arrangements to come up with funding amounting to Rs. 1 million contributed by Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), SLITHM, and Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) to be utilized to purchase dry rations for distribution among IDPs.
As the Sri Lankan tourism industry steps in to assist the persons affected due to the conflict situation, we hope for the speedy end of the armed conflict and an era of peace, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of civilians living in the conflict affected areas of the country, said Mr Bernard Goonetilleke, Chairman, SLTDA and SLTPB.