US statement undermines tourism revival - SL Foreign Ministry
[TamilNet, Monday, 29 June 2009, 11:24 GMT]
United States travel advisory aimed at discouraging US citizens from visiting Sri Lanka was part of US strategy to undermine the country [Sri Lanka], according to Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry official, the pro-Government Island newspaper said. "[N]othing could be as bad as the US warning of potential for continued stability and possible terrorist attacks a month after the end of war," the paper said, and added, "though the armed forces maintained road blocks and carried out routine checks on vehicles entering the city and its suburbs, there was no likelihood of LTTE attacks," attributing the comments to a foreign ministry official.
The U.S. State Department Saturday warned “American citizens traveling to or living in Sri Lanka about the potential for continued instability, including possible terrorist attacks...In some cases, foreigners of Sri Lankan origin may be detained without their embassy being notified," the statement said. "The activities of journalists, researchers, aid workers, and volunteers receive particular attention."
"Another official pointed out that the US issued its latest warning close on the heels of Sri Lanka Tourism launching its new brand identity ‘Sri Lanka Small Miracle’ to promote tourism," the paper said, adding that recently a Sri Lanka ambassador has "urged the western countries to remove travel advisories as peace and stability had been restored in all parts of the country."
Sri Lanka's President, Mahinda Rajapakse had earlier told a tourism and hospitality personnel gathering that Sri Lanka "hoped to receive 2.5 million tourists in 2016, and that 2011 would be declared as "Visit Sri Lanka Year,"" the paper said.
Meanwhile, Tamil diaspora circles said if Colombo continues to mistreat the 300,000 Tamil civilians being held in internment camps, and fails to reach an acceptable political solution, the diaspora will embark on a world-wide economic boycott of Sri Lanka goods, and will pressure the big-label manufacturers to shift manufacturing operations to rights-compliant South Asian countries. Sri Lanka's tourism industry will be a main target of the economic boycott, according to diaspora activists.