TikaWeeks #17-2/2020: Sri Lanka update

Posted by John on 22nd April 2020

Sunset over Ella, Hill Country, Sri Lanka

Happy Earth Day! Yesterday, on the first anniversary of the terrorist atrocities in Sri Lanka, I sent a message to our guides about the coronavirus pandemic, finishing with a favourite quote of mine from ‘Lord of the Rings’, which is particularly prophetic today: (Frodo) “I wish none of this had happened." (Gandalf) "So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

Here is the full text of my message:

I hope that you and your family and friends are safe and healthy during these unprecedented and exceptional times.

On this day one year ago, Sri Lanka was struck by devastating terrorist bomb attacks and now, 12 months on, the whole planet is in the midst of a catastrophic viral pandemic that will change the world forever. How are we to respond? Hopefully with compassion, community and mutual support. Like many other industries, the travel sector has been decimated by the immediate effects of the pandemic and, realistically, there is still a long way to go before tourism will recover let alone get back to ‘normal’, whatever that will be in the future. With airlines grounded, governmental advisories against travel and people facing financial hardship, tourism is unlikely to restart for another six months or so and, when it does, we have no idea what form it will take. On a positive note, tourism has triumphed in Sri Lanka despite previous challenges (Asian tsunami, civil war etc.), and the country appears to have managed the pandemic efficiently and successfully so far, unlike the UK. Let us all be optimistic for a bright future ahead once the difficulties of the present are a dark and distant memory.

I will leave you with a favourite quote of mine, which is apt for the current situation:

Frodo: “I wish none of this had happened."

Gandalf: "So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

Look after yourselves and please stay in touch.

We’re thinking of you.

Last year I sent a heartfelt email to our guides in the aftermath of the bomb attacks on Easter Sunday, as follows:

Nearly 20 years ago I first stepped foot in Sri Lanka and immediately felt an affinity to the country and its people. Since then, Sri Lanka has been my second home which makes the dreadful events on Easter Sunday an attack on my homeland and I feel it like a dagger plunged deep into my heart. I can only offer our deepest sympathy to all of the people affected by these atrocities and show our unequivocal support and solidarity to Sri Lanka and its people.  

In the past few days, we have received a flood of emails, texts and messages from customers, colleagues, friends and family expressing their shock and revulsion at the senseless and cynical attacks on innocents in Sri Lanka. Some customers have even called to make their feelings known in person. This shows how deeply visitors connect with the island’s people and the lasting impression of the ever-smiling Sri Lankan that remains. The smile may take time to return but ultimately no act of barbarism will affect the natural warmth and sincerity of the people of Sri Lanka.   

The spread of terrorism is a global phenomenon, an insidious and nihilistic attempt to divide countries and communities along ethnic, religious or cultural lines. Our response must be to deny the perpetrators the satisfaction of dividing us by uniting to condemn the attacks and resolving to promote tolerance with the aim of living in peace and harmony throughout the world.

Categories: Sri Lanka

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