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Sri Lankan hoteliers offer free food and lodgings to stranded Ukrainian tourists

Sri Lankan hoteliers have decide to look after standard Ukrainian tourists, while the government plans to extend their visas. Picture: IANS

Sri Lankan hoteliers have decide to look after standard Ukrainian tourists, while the government plans to extend their visas. Picture: IANS

Published Mar 1, 2022

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Colombo - Sri Lankan hoteliers have decide to look after standard Ukrainian tourists, while the government plans to extend their visas.

A number of hotel owners from southern coastal lines to central hills where Ukrainian tourists frequent most have announced that they would provide free food and lodging to Ukraine nationals who are held up due to Russian invasion back home.

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"These tourists have been here for more than one month now and many have run out of money, and there is no way for them to get money. So they asked us what we could do for them. I told them that they do not need to worry about money and they could stay here and we will look after them as long as they are here," said Rupasena Koswatta, a hotel owner in Galle.

"We are more than happy to look after Ukrainian tourists in our hotels, who are stranded due to the ongoing war in Ukraine," said Ranjan Peiris, General Manger of a leading hotel in Kandy.

With the cancellation of flights to Ukraine, about 4 000 Ukrainian tourists have been stranded in Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry has announced that the government would provide every possible assistance, including visa extension, to the Ukrainian tourists in the country.

Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga on Monday announced that visas for stranded Ukrainian tourists in the country would be extended by 30 days to 60 days. The final decision is to be taken at this week's cabinet meeting.

Meanwhile, the tourism sector that was reviving after the Covid-19 pandemic in Sri Lanka will be hit hard again with the Ukraine-Russia war as the two countries had recorded highest number of tourist arrivals recently.

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According to Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, in January, Russia recorded 16 per cent of all tourist arrivals to the island nation, while Ukraine accounted for 10 per cent of all tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka.

Out of 82 327 total tourist arrivals, over 31 000 were from central and eastern Europe, home to countries such as Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Russia and Kazakhstan.

M. Shanthikumar, President of the Hotel Association of Sri Lanka, said that after the pandemic, central Europe, especially Ukraine and Russia, accounted for most tourist arrivals.

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However, with many cancellations from these parts of the world, tourism would be affected badly, he said.

On Monday, over 100 Ukrainian tourists in Sri Lanka staged a protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine opposite the Russian Embassy.

The protesters demanded Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the war and order Russian troops out of Ukraine.

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