Each year 1.4 billion international trips are taken by tourists to every corner of the globe. It is an incredible movement of people, allowing travellers to appreciate places previously unknown, undertake cross-cultural exchange, and bring humanity closer together. But with so many people away from home, when the COVID crisis struck and borders were closed, millions found themselves stranded. As numerous countries struggled to find a solution, the island nation of Sri Lanka answered the call with incredible generosity; opening their hearts and homes, while setting a tremendous example for the world to follow.
This is the world’s tourists Story of Gratitude for Sri Lanka
With overseas visitors stranded across the beautiful country, a national program was launched to assist. At the first opportunity, tourists were given dry ration gift packages, information about the health services on offer, and assured that they would not be forgotten. With the initial work done and the country moving towards a lockdown to dramatically reduce the spread of the virus, the people of Sri Lanka had a message for their international guests. “We will give you homes, support, and food, we will be your family away from your family”.
In the small town of Ella in the Badulla District, fourteen tourists found themselves stuck. They’d run out of money, they couldn’t fly home and they had nowhere to turn. They’d been drawn to the area for its incredible mountain vistas, endless hiking trails, and scenic train rides. But now in their moment of need, it was the people of Ella who came to their rescue. Each tourist was taken into a local home, provided with everything they needed and the town rallied around to support them. While many tourists around the world slept in airports and called their loved ones for help, the tourists of Ella were being cared for by their new family.
With Sri Lanka’s government determined to ensure the virus was contained a curfew was introduced. But always aware of their visitor’s needs, the police came up with a simple and yet clever solution to a new problem. Some nations had organised charter flights to bring their citizens home, so to enable the tourists around Sri Lanka to reach the airports, they were allowed to use their existing airline tickets to pass checkpoints during the curfew. This allowed many to make it onto last minute flights on the other side of the country, where otherwise they would have been too late.
It was clear that the people of Sri Lanka would do all they could to show their guests the finest hospitality, not a single tourist would be left without a home, even despite the local people’s own suffering during the global pandemic. From the first days of the program, tourists flooded social media with smiles, grateful, and relieved that they were being cared for so well. Mindful of the fact tourism is vital to Sri Lanka’s economy and was now itself struggling with global travel paused, the tourists have once again taken to social media with a new message. When the pandemic is over, the people of the world can show their gratitude by travelling to Sri Lanka to help support the beautiful nation’s tourism industry.
This is Sri Lanka’s Story of Gratitude. We were only able to mention a small number of the stories we have heard from tourists in Sri Lanka; if anyone knows more please contact us here as the Share Gratitude community would like to thank those involved and look to support this initiative. Imagine if during this global pandemic we all welcome those stranded or lost into our hearts and homes, Sri Lanka has shown us the way.
We encourage you to follow us for more Stories of Gratitude and invite you to share your story – or send a simple message of Gratitude to those behind this initiative, please visit sharegratitude.com