January 2005

Tourism industry takes a battering

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Sunshine Coast Daily, January 2005


News Source: Sunshine Coast Daily, page 5, Tuesday 12th January, 2005
By: Mark Furler

As we join tourists watching baby elephants enjoy their daily dip in the river, the devastation in Sri Lanka seems a world away.

But even inland, the impact of the world’s worst natural disaster is taking its toll.

Normally at this time of year, the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage near Kandy would be packed with Europeans.

But on the weekend, we found mainly Sri Lankans. London consultant James Cherkoff and his girlfriend Liz Wallis are among the few European tourists who have remained.

They flew in on the day of tsunami, taking the five-hour journey on the coastal road to stay at a place called Rocky Point.

“We sat down in a restaurant – it was quite high up – and watched the wave come in,” James said.

The road they travelled on was washed away while there was complete devastation 50 metres either side of where they were staying.

James, who has been to Sri Lanka once before, said he believed the tourists would return but it was vital that the rebuilding happened quickly.

But the sheer magnitude of the destruction means it may take years for Sri Lanka’s vital tourism industry to recover.

In Colombo, hotel workers, drivers, retailers, and others dependent on tourism fear they may become the next victims in coming weeks as media representatives from around the world begin to leave.