Tuesday, 15 January 2019 11:33

Research firm faults embassies over misleading travel advisories

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A Sri Lanka-based German research institution said that misleading travel advisories by some foreign missions including the German Embassy caused a colossal loss to the Sri Lankan tourism industry.

Chief Executive Officer of AGSEP Research, Dietmar Döring, a German national domiciled in Sri Lanka, said the recent drop of arrivals in November 2018 had become a new subject of an AGSEP Research survey.

The survey brought to light that the drop of arrival had reached a staggering amount of cancellations of rooms in November alone, despite it being the peak season for the western part of Sri Lanka’s hotel Industries.

He faulted the German Embassy in Colombo for issuing travel caution notices without adequate definitions and wordings to describe the factual ground situation in Sri Lanka.

He said the German Embassy should be here in Sri Lanka on grounds of cooperation rather than on confrontations with the host country. Sri Lanka’s tourism industry lost US $ 8.096.760 in one month’s time.

“The significant drop of tourist arrivals had been triggered in the first place by the publication of misleading ‘Travel Caution Notices’ which were related to the constitutional crisis which evolved in October 2019.

These caution notices are frequently updated by information sent through foreign missions who are operative in Sri Lanka. The German and the British caution notices triggered the biggest negative impact on Sri Lanka’s ground situation as these embassies have portrayed Sri Lanka as a destination that when travelled to, to avoid bigger gatherings of people (German caution notice).

The British even went one step further warning that terrorist attacks in general cannot be ruled out for Sri Lanka. Then where in the world can a terrorist attack been ruled out?” he asked.

“When contacting the German Foreign Office in Berlin as to how these caution notices are created and formulated and as to which sources are the base of these warning, we were informed, that the main source of information is regularly obtained through their foreign missions abroad.

In the case of the German Embassy, the question arises as to how a travel caution notice could be formulated in such a general way, that German tourists should avoid bigger gatherings of people in Sri Lanka. The German Embassy certainly would have focused on the huge demonstrations that occurred during the constitutional crisis, where tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in the capital Colombo.

However, the caution notice did not consider at all that not a single foreigner had been hurt during these demonstrations and that apart from disruptive effects on the public transport and traffic, no other major incidents had been recorded.

Taking into consideration that the Foreign Office in Germany and all its publications carry a high credibility in the public German’s eye, their notices too are accepted by the German public as sincere and valuable information and are followed in the same way. All tourism related institutions are mandatory obliged to consider the German Foreign Office advice as facts beyond doubts,” he said.

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