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Published on Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Sri Lanka specialist asks for support as it 'rises above the carnage'

A Sri Lanka specialist has urged its travel industry partners to continue to support the destination and not let 'sinister forces' have their way.

Family-owned Jetwing Travels, which lost both employees and customers in the attacks on Easter Sunday, says it is 'rising above the carnage'.

The series of seven blasts in hotels and churches killed 310 people, including British holidaymakers and other tourists. Hundreds more were injured.

In an open letter, chairman and managing director Shiromal Cooray said: "It is with profound sadness and a very heavy heart that I write this message to you. I did not in my wildest dreams imagine that terror will strike my beautiful and peaceful island home just a decade after we ended a senseless war.

"It appears that sinister forces were at play and we are confident that our intelligence and defense personnel will do what needs to be done, to continue that peace and tranquility that attracted and continue to attract many visitors to Sri Lanka."

She added: "The human spirit is strong, and we will get through this and of course we count on your support as we have always done in the past to help us through this tragedy."

The company lost a young couple in the attacks - a telephone operator and her fiancé, a steward from its team at Jetwing Blue in Negombo.

"They were planning to get married this year and were at prayer at the Katuwapitiya church, when the coward carried out the deadly act," said Cooray.

"At Jetwing Travels, we lost one of our guests at the Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo. He and his wife were married just a week before and were on their honeymoon. They finished the first leg of their tour and were all packed and ready to fly to Male and were breakfasting when this happened."

She said security has been increased around the country and all hotels and public places are being guarded.

"At present, we are rising above the carnage and grouping together to provide security and comfort to all Sri Lankans and visitors from overseas who are continuing their visits to Sri Lanka and all others who are coming to our shores in the days ahead," she added.

"You have been with us at our worst and seen us through very difficult situations, I ask you again on behalf of all Sri Lankans and especially, our team at Jetwing, please continue in the same spirit, we cannot and must not let these incidents rule our lives."

UK-based travel companies were quick to pledge their support for the destination.

John Warr, global sales director for Wendy Wu Tours, said its 'thoughts and prayers go out to victims and the people of Sri Lanka'.

It has one group tour in the country and three tailor-made bookings. "All guests in the region are accounted for and are in good spirits," Warr added. 

Andy Freeth from If Only said: "Horrific news from Sri Lanka. Our thoughts are with the families affected by this awful tragedy."

Kuoni also expressed its condolences and said it was monitoring the situation closely. It said it has had no cancellations for forward bookings.

Wendy Kenneally, Kuoni director commercial and operations, said: "Kuoni has a long-standing partnership with Sri Lanka and it was with disbelief and sorrow that we awoke to hear news of the terrible attacks that took place in a country we have grown to love.

"We have many close friends and colleagues in Sri Lanka and we have no doubt that the destination will rebound through the strength, determination and courage of its people. But, for now, in this time of mourning, our thoughts are with the people of Sri Lanka."



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