With the support of our friends, Sri Lanka will unite

Dear Friends & Partners,

It is with a profound sense of sadness that we share this. You will by now have heard the news, have seen the distressing pictures flashed across your television screens, and will fully understand the scale of appalling tragedy that unfolded on this beautiful island on Easter Sunday. Words are rarely adequate when it comes to capturing the true emotions created by such events, but the human and personal stories in the media reports that have followed the initial breaking news could not have left our hearts heavier.

This tragedy is completely at odds with the true reality of modern Sri Lanka, a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society that has been enjoying an extended period of peace and growing prosperity in recent years. We are all still in a state of shock. No one expected this.

It’s been a difficult few days for everyone at Red Dot, although we are fortunate that no employees, guides or clients were hurt in the attacks. We are relieved and very grateful for that, but at the same time we of course are so very sorry for those that have suffered. We would like to offer our deepest sympathies and most sincere condolences to those that have lost loved ones or suffered injuries. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all at this time.

We would also like to take this opportunity to offer our heartfelt thanks for the many messages of concern, support and goodwill that have flooded in during recent days. It has been comforting and inspiring for all of us to receive such encouragement, providing a welcome reminder to us all of just how many friends of Sri Lanka there are around the world.

Thank you to all our wonderful employees and guides who during the past few days reacted with so much courage, commitment and passion to ensure all our guests were looked after with love and care. We had 181 guests staying with us at the time of the blasts and within an hour of the hotel explosions the operations team had assembled an emergency care desk that started to reach out to them all. Many have worked tirelessly during the tense aftermath, holed-up in the office during night-time curfew, manning the telephone lines and reorganising logistics so clients were all feeling safe and secure. We are immensely proud of the team for their efforts.

During such a time of loss, while many are in deep mourning, it does not feel entirely right to speculate about what the future holds for Sri Lanka tourism, and indeed Red Dot as a travel company that specialises in tailor-made travel to Sri Lanka. However, as the post-emergency phase comes to an end, we must start to look forward.

Yesterday, we communicated to all employees that during the coming few days, weeks and months will be very challenging for Red Dot. We are under no illusion that the Easter Sunday attacks pose a colossal threat to Sri Lanka tourism and it will take many weeks and probably months to recover. However, while the immediate future appears bleak and many dependant on tourism are understandably fearful, their once-secure livelihoods suddenly at risk, we can take comfort from two things.

Firstly, Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans have a long history of resilience. The island has faced many challenges in its long history – most obviously in recent decades during the 26-year civil conflict that ended in 2009 and also during the 2004 tsunami – but has always bounced back strongly. Red Dot has also faced many difficult challenges during our own 20-year history that has spanned both conflict and natural disaster. However, when faced with a crisis – mirroring the country as a whole – we have always responded with such unity, resilience, spirit and enthusiasm that we have emerged stronger, usually sooner than we feared at the outset. I have complete confidence that Sri Lanka, as well as Red Dot, will display the same fortitude of spirit in the coming months.

Secondly, and perhaps even more crucially, Sri Lanka has so many friends around the world. Those loyal friends have always reached out and supported the island during times of need. Their voices are already being heard in telephone calls, emails and messages. It seems that so many who travel to Sri Lanka make a deep and emotional connection with an island that goes so far beyond the beauty and magical splendour of the beaches, wildlife parks and historic sites. Sri Lanka has a special soul, a happy heart, that reaches out to all visitors with undiscriminating warmth and generosity. I know that when this security situation calms, which surely it will soon, our friends from overseas will be reaching out and returning in greater numbers than ever before.

While we are worried about our own futures, we at Red Dot appreciate that we have wider responsibilities. Tourism has become an increasingly vital pillar of the Sri Lankan economy in recent years with thousands of independent guides, drivers, hoteliers and suppliers relying heavily upon Red Dot and other similar travel companies for their livelihoods. They are our partners, part of our extended family, and it is our duty and responsibility of us all to do everything we can in our own small way to help aid the rehabilitation of the industry. We need them just as much as they need us. We are not a faceless booking platform churning out transactions, we are a group of passionate travel enthusiasts working together with equally passionate professionals to create amazing holidays that brighten and inspire the lives of our guests. We look forward to playing our part.

And as we rise to these new challenges, we will do so displaying the same values of inclusiveness and unity that underpin the very foundation of Red Dot. Like the country we live in and love, we are a multi-ethnic and multi-faith organisation that treats all people as equal. We are in essence the polar opposite of the religious and ethnic extremists that spend their time trying to divide societies to fuel conflict, violence and pain. We are surrounded by family, friends, partners, clients and fellow travel companies with the same values as ours, and we shall proudly live out those ideals in everything we do.

Thank you again for your generous support and encouragement.

Red Dot Team