Govt. rejects appeal to lift TN travel advisory
The Government yesterday rejected calls by the Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TNCCI) to lift the travel advisory warning Sri Lankans against visiting the southern Indian state.
“There have been more than 20 incidents targeting Sri Lankans or related interests since the start of this year and therefore it was necessary to put up the advisory to protect individuals and their property,” External Affairs Ministry (EAM) Secretary Karunatilleke Amunugama said.
The Government was watching the situation in Tamil Nadu and the travel advisory would be reviewed when the situation returned to normal, he said.The Government’s strong stance comes amidst growing calls both in Sri Lanka and Chennai to withdraw the advisory since it was hurting business on both sides.
The Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry in a statement yesterday expressed anger at the recent attacks on Sri Lankan pilgrims in Trichy and urged the Indian Government to take up the matter at the highest level to prevent a repeat of such acts since they were tarnishing the image of Tamil Nadu.
The TNCCI also warned that the travel advisory issued by Sri Lanka would seriously affect Tamil Nadu’s tourism and trade sectors. The TNCCI said Indo-Sri Lanka trade amounted to about US$5 billion annually and exports to Lanka were eight times more than imports.
The chamber said there were about two million Tamils in Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu’s opportunities for business growth and tourism development were good and these despicable acts should not affect the ongoing business of tourism and pilgrimage.
“The image and hospitality of Tamil Nadu people should not be allowed to be tarnished by mindless harassment of foreign tourists,” it said.
The chamber appealed to Sri Lanka to withdraw the travel advisory.Meanwhile, an official of a travel firm involved in taking pilgrims to South India said the Government should review the travel advisory and settle the issue through diplomatic efforts.
According to airline figures an estimated 100,000 Sri Lankans visit South India each month for various purposes including education, pilgrimage, business and shopping.
The national carrier-SriLankan alone operates four flights to Chennai and two to Trichy daily.A spokesperson for the airline said bookings on its flights had so far not been affected following the travel advisory, but warned things could change.
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