SRI LANKA: “The Easter Sunday attacks were shocking and unexpected and the immediate aftermath has been terrible,” Mustafa Najmudeen declare. He is director and owner of The Amber Collections, group of hotels in luxury, hospitality and experience for tourists visiting Sri Lanka.
The attacks left more than 250 killed plus 500 injured. The immediate effect on tourism was that hotel occupancies dropped to record low and left the industry barely above water. The tragedy led to downturn and empty beaches, shops and restaurants.
-What’s been the response in dealing with the attacks?
“The tourism industry in Sri Lanka has always remained strong through several challenging periods. The long civil war and the tsunami being examples. As a whole the industry is united in the face of this tragedy and we know the security has been restored. We’re also studying success stories of other countries that recovered from similar attacks”, says Mustafa.
The tourist business is focused on working with foreign governments to lift travel bans. With that in mind, Sri Lanka Tourism participate in 25 travel shows and 18 road shows globally.
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Luxury river cruise. Amber Collections portfolio consists of three properties. Two of which fall under the Amber Collection: Flow – the luxury river cruise experience and The Marina – a lakeside day club. Palmstone Retreat is a boutique offering hidden in a rainforest.
“We try to put our guests in touch with the core of what the locale is about. Flow, for example, is a first in Sri Lanka. There are no other luxury river cruises on the island. It’s on Bolgoda Lake, 45 minutes south of Colombo. The Marina is a high-end day club on the shores of the same lake with a country-club ambience, water sports, excursions, activities and events.
River Kwai. “Kitulgala is a village where Palmstone Retreat is. It’s at a halfway point between Kandy and the tea country Nuwera Eliya. The Kelani River runs through it. It’s also the location of the Academy-Award winning movie The Bridge on the River Kwai. This is the romantic setting of Palmstone Retreat which overlooks a picturesque stream and a waterfall. Luxury chalet at Palmstone Retreat blends in to the surroundings and popular as a honeymoon destination due to its intense privacy. The common thread through our properties is that they are off the beaten path and we employ local staff.”
-Main question; Is it safe to visit Sri Lanka?
“The police, tourism police and security forces together are implementing a security plan to deliver safety across the island. There are no road closures or restrictions on movement anywhere. Sri Lankan citizens have returned to their daily lives and we are ready to bounce back. Our world-famous tourist sites, hotels, resorts and attractions remain open”.
Director Mustafa Najmudeen talks to Demi Perera