Sri Lanka travel cancellations have piled up after the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks that killed hundreds of people in hotels and churches. 

An analysis by ForwardKeys found that in the three days immediately following the bombings, cancellations of existing bookings surged 86.2% while new bookings plummeted. 

ForwardKeys found that in Sri Lanka's most important source markets, more people cancelled existing flights than made bookings on the equivalent day last year. Forward bookings for July and August, which had been running 2.6% ahead of last year as of April 20 (the day before the attacks) fell to 0.3% behind as of April 23. 

Sri Lanka's tourism industry had been showing "healthy growth," ForwradKeys said, with flight bookings to the island nation up 3.4% so far this year, highlighted by Russia, Australia and China up by 45.7%, 19.0% and 16.8% respectively.

Jameson Wong, ForwardKeys' director of business development for the Asia-Pacific region, said it is too early to predict what the longer-term impact on Sri Lanka tourism, noting the wide variation in recovery following other attacks around the world. 

"If we look back at past terrorist atrocities, it is interesting to note how different the impacts can be," Wong said. "In the wake of the bloody siege at the Westgate shopping center in Nairobi, bookings suffered a similar collapse in the immediate aftermath> however, within less than two weeks, international arrivals returned to growth. By comparison, it has taken more than three years to see a Tunisian tourism recovery following the massacre on the beach in Sousse in 2015. We will keep the situation under review."

ForwardKeys predicts future travel patterns by analyzing 17 million booking transactions a day.


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