Easter Sunday Attacks
On 21 April 2019 my country of Sri Lanka was victim of another inhuman attack. As if a 25 year civil war, a natural disaster and political instability is not enough.
Being born to a Sri Lankan father and Dutch mother, I have lived most of my childhood in the hills of Sri Lanka before getting experience in the UK and Netherlands. After visiting Sri Lanka every year I decided it was time to return to full-fill my dream of contributing where it matters; through sustainable tourism.
Being humbled by Sri Lanka during my childhood years and really getting to know the Sri Lankan people I can say that I do not know of a nation with so much love, simplicity and happiness.
Tourism and hospitality is in our blood. A Sri Lankan, whether he/she is Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, Catholic, or Hindu is naturally charming and welcoming that the minimum you will receive is a smile.
Lonely planet voted Sri Lanka as the number 1 travel destination for 2019 and rightfully so - it was about time. However, within a few hours this was taken away. Sri Lanka, like many other countries became a victim of extremism claiming over 250 lives and bringing the country down to its knees.
Tourism is, well, was fast becoming the main contributor towards Sri Lanka's economy. More than 2 million of the population are directly dependant on tourism and it is heartbreaking to see the impact this is having on the livelihoods of the locals. They are without a job, loans to pay back, families to feed and without a foreseeable future.
Now, Sri Lanka has always had its problems. As a multi-cultural nation, predominantly Buddhist with Muslim, Catholic and Hindu minorities, there are always going to be difficulties after a 30 year civil war and the current global issue of religious extremism. However, a Sri Lankan will tell you that they only want to live peacefully. They have seen enough bloodshed and hardship.
What saddens me is that the Sri Lankan people are constantly being put through hardship. If not by its selfish politicians who put themselves ahead of their local people then its a natural disaster or an attack by religious extremists. There is no denying that the incompetence and corruption of the country's politicians are part to blame for the recent events and constant political instability that seems to affect the country year after year.
Its also important to know that ISIS who have claimed responsibility for the attack are also responsible for attacks in countries such as the UK, France, Belgium and the US. Those same countries preach 'unity and strength' and insist that we must continue with our daily lives and not give in by living in fear. However, after the attacks in Sri Lanka these countries did not hesitate to implement a travel ban immediately which is still active today. Just to put this into perspective; a country such as France has not been given a travel ban despite multiple terror attacks and active ISIS activity. I am simply asking for fairness and 'unity' which they preach when in need.
It has been over 30 days since the attacks and the Sri Lankan authorities have assured safety for tourists and the locals but yet the Western countries continue to slap a travel ban on what I feel they see as an inferior country.
This leads me to two simple questions;
When can our politicians stop caring about votes, getting rich and start putting their people first?
Is it fair to let a country so dependant on tourism suffer as a result of an ISIS attack that you have experienced but yet preach unity and strength?
Its time that those in power came together and started caring.