AITO – The Specialist Travel Association

Sri Lanka specialist tour operators pledge wholehearted support

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Sri Lanka specialist tour operators pledge wholehearted support to the Sri Lankan tourism industry following Easter Sunday’s atrocities

Prompted by appeals from the Sri Lankan travel industry as a whole, plus many individual self-employed guides and driver guides, members of AITO, The Specialist Travel Association (www.aito.com), including Bamboo Travel, Experience Travel Group, Fleewinter and Travel Gallery, plus other Sri Lanka travel specialists, Holiday Architects and Selective Asia, are working together to rally support for Sri Lankan tourism and the people of Sri Lanka.

Says spokesman for the group of holiday specialists, Sam Clark (Experience Travel Group): “As a collective, we are very fortunate that none of our clients in Sri Lanka were directly affected by last Sunday’s atrocities. Naturally, our thoughts and deepest condolences go out to all those injured and to the families and friends of the victims.

“Our primary aim is, of course, to provide safe and comfortable travel arrangements for all clients currently in Sri Lanka and for those with plans to visit the island in the future. I am glad to say that several groups have travelled to Sri Lanka since the incidents of last Sunday; we are in touch with them – both via our guides and directly – and understand that they feel safe and are happy to be on the island.

“We thank all involved for their sympathy and solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka. In continuing with their holidays, visitors are providing valuable support to the individuals working within the travel industry and their wider families, as well as delivering a strong message to the terrorists. As specialist operators, part of our ethos is to ensure that our clients are involved in the wider Sri Lankan community, to ensure that both the financial benefits of tourism are spread as far as possible amongst the families of those with whom we work and also so that our travellers get to know more about the destination and its people, often making friendships during their trip.

“We have been overwhelmed by kind messages of support from within the UK, both from the wider travel community here and from previous clients. As specialist operators of long standing, we have many friends and colleagues on the island of Sri Lanka; many of our previous clients have enquired after the health and safety of their guides, and many more people have expressed support generally for Sri Lanka and for the tourism business there. We of course pass these missives on to our teams in Sri Lanka, who tell us that they find strength from and are much encouraged by such messages of support.

“We undertake to continue doing everything we can to support our colleagues and friends, as well as the wider travel and tourism sector in Sri Lanka, in the days, weeks and months ahead. The travel industry is a vital part of the economy of Sri Lanka, and delivers employment to a wide range of socio-economic groups and an equally diverse age range of people. Full employment and the opportunity for visitors to meet local people of all backgrounds (and vice versa) are, we believe, key to deeper understanding on both sides and to creating positive and enduring holiday memories and friendships.”

The specialist companies concerned are currently planning how best to assist Sri Lankan tourism to recover from Easter Sunday’s atrocities in practical terms and hope to make an announcement about their ideas in the near future.

Issued by Travel PR on behalf of AITO; for more information, please contact Sue Ockwell, Jackie Franklin, Laura Manning or Charlotte Griffiths on 020 8891 4440 or email s.ockwell@travelpr.co.uk, j.franklin@travelpr.co.uk, l.manning@travelpr.co.uk or c.griffiths@travelpr.co.uk.

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