Restoring Tourism Destinations in Crisis: A Strategic Marketing Approach

By David Beirman | Go to book overview

6
SRI LANKA: CIVIL WAR,
1995–2001

Marketing during a long-term crisis

CRISIS RANKING: DESTCON 2


BACKGROUND

At the end of June 2001, Sri Lanka was on target for a record year of inbound tourism. Sri Lanka's tourism industry was showing every indication of achieving one of the great triumphs of crisis marketing. In June 2001, some 28 000 foreign tourists—a 30 per cent increase over June 2000—visited Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Airlines was enjoying record passenger patronage. 1 In the midst of a prolonged civil war between the separatist guerrilla movement Liberation of Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)—commonly referred to as the Tamil Tigers—and the Sri Lankan government, the Sri Lankan tourism industry was experiencing a promising recovery with rising numbers of overseas visitors, a newly restructured national carrier and considerable success in attracting foreign investment. 2

On July 24, 2001 the Tamil Tigers launched a destructive attack against Colombo International Airport, which resulted in the destruction of most of the Air Sri Lanka fleet of passenger aircraft. Many people were killed at the airport, including some tourists. The attack lasted three hours and severely damaged much of the international passenger terminal. The July 24 terrorist strike derailed a long-term tourism recovery process which was realising significant progress during the second half of the 1990s and the beginning of 2001. 3

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