HIKKADUWA, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka was the Lonely Planet guide’s top travel destination for 2019, but since the Easter Sunday attacks on churches and luxury hotels, foreign tourists have fled. Many of those booked to come in the next few months have canceled. Hotel occupancy has plummeted by 85% to 90%. The tropical beaches, restaurants and shops are empty.
The coordinated suicide bombings not only destroyed lives but also wiped out the livelihoods of Sri Lankans who depend on tourism.
More than 250 people, including 45 foreigners mainly from China, India, the U.S. and the U.K., died in the Islamic State group-claimed blasts.
Some tourism officials say the damage to the industry from the bombings is worse than during Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war.