- Wrapping up his two-day visit, UK Minister Ben Wallace assures support to return industry to full strength
British State Minister for Security and Economic Crime Ben Wallace, wrapping up his visit to Sri Lanka, has assured support from the UK Government to rebuild the local tourism industry.
The Minister, who arrived on Thursday (2 May), visited to reiterate the UK’s condolences following the attack on Easter Sunday which killed at least 250 people, including at least eight British nationals, the British High Commission said in a statement on Friday.
As part of his visit, the Security Minister met President Sirisena, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, other Government Ministers, military and religious leaders, senior Government officials as well as leading figures from the Sri Lankan tourism sector.
He discussed the impact on Sri Lanka, how to address the security threat, identified what further support the UK can provide, and received an update on the ongoing investigations.
The Minister visited the Cinnamon Grand and Shangri-La Hotels, sites where British nationals were killed in the attacks and met hotel staff,also visiting the St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo. The Minister laid a wreath at all three sites in respect of all those who had lost their lives following the tragic events of Easter Sunday.
Security Minister Ben Wallace said: “The attack on innocent worshippers and tourists sought to sow division and hate, and it must not be allowed to succeed.
“In times like this, friends support each other. I visited on behalf of the UK Government to offer that support and stand in solidarity with the Sri Lankan people.”
“I was deeply moved to visit the hotels and St. Anthony’s Church, and to hear from those affected by the attacks. They must only serve to strengthen our resolve to work in partnership with countries around the world to counter the global terrorist threat.
“As part of my visit, I have discussed our current travel advice and been clear that we hope to see the Sri Lankan tourism industry return to full strength. We will do all we can to help the Sri Lankan authorities with this.”
The Minister also met the UK police officers who have travelled to Sri Lanka and the consular staff at the British High Commission in Colombo who supported and continue to support British nationals in the country.
The Metropolitan Police Counter-Terrorism Command dispatched a team of specialists to Sri Lanka, including family liaison officers, to support the families of British victims and assist with the repatriation of deceased British nationals.