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How Locals Took Care of Tourists Stranded in Ella Sri Lanka

Ella, Sri Lanka before COVID 19

Just before COVID19 was a big concern all over the world, the tourism industry of Sri Lanka was recovering itself fast. The tourism industry of the country was at the rock bottom in 2019 due to Easter Sunday Attacks. Just after easter Sunday attacks, all the tourists left the country. The number of tourists coming to Sri Lanka dropped drastically in 2019 due to the uncertainty. However, as time went by, the effects of the attacks were fading away, and the tourist numbers started rising.

Ella in Sri Lanka also felt the lack of tourists badly. Ella is one of the most famous towns in Sri Lanka among tourists. Mainly that is due to the mild climate, the scenic beauty, the most picturesque train ride, the best hikes, and extremely travel-friendly surroundings. Tourists were starting to grow in numbers in Ella as well at the beginning of 2020.

COVID 19 and Tourism in Ella Sri Lanka

With the COVID 19 outbreak, tourism dropped again in Ella, almost to zero. This is due to the curfew that was imposed by the government. Of course, the government of Sri Lanka had to take tight measurements to stop the pandemic from spreading all over Sri Lanka. But it had detrimental effects on the tourism industry, which was unavoidable.

Similarly, all the countries throughout the world went into lockdown to contain the spread of the deadly pandemic. It was all around the news that the tourists stranded in lockdown situations in countries like India and Saudi Arabia had to live off instant foods for many days. There was no other option for The tourists. The Maldives gave discounts to 500 stranded tourists in the islands. But the situation in Sri Lanka was way different.

Especially in Ella, Sri Lanka, tourists were spending the quarantine situation quite freely enjoying themselves.

They didn’t have to spend a penny on accommodation or food.

The locals in the Ella area stepped up to help the stranded tourists going above and beyond.

Hospitality Above and Beyond

Most of the people in Ella city depend on the tourism industry. They earn their livelihood by providing services to the tourists coming to Ella from all parts of the world.

There were around 50 tourists stranded in Ella not being able to go back to their countries. The locals arranged free accommodation at a guest house in Ella. Cafe Chill, which is a famous place in Ella, took the lead in providing free breakfast, lunch, and dinner to the tourists. The locals did not take even a penny from these tourists.

Darshana, who is the owner of Cafe Chill, said that they wanted to step up and do it because they are earning from these tourists who come from various parts of the world. Locals wanted to give something back to the tourists whom they depend on. This is a way of Ella community in Sri Lanka saying “Thank you” to all the tourists who visit there.
These were the exact words of the Owner of Cafe Chill.

The reason why we are able to wait out this curfew and the reason why Ella is where it is now is because whatever income we gained was from tourists, so we have a duty to take care of them now that they are helpless. They are in a strange land, have no friends, can’t see their families, and don’t know the language – they need our help

-Darshana (Cafe Chill)

Reactions of Stranded Tourists in Ella, Sri Lanka

The tourists are not in a hurry to go back to their mother countries. They said that they want to spend some time in Arugam Bay, which is a surfing hotspot after things calm down.

Maybe they are lucky to stay in Sri Lanka rather than being in their own countries with the wide spreading of COVID 19. Sri Lankan health sector and the anti-corona task force did their jobs amazingly well. Roughly 850 infected people as of May 10th of 2020. Only 9 passed away out of all of them due to COVID 19 while thousands die in other developed countries. Maybe the lockdown was some sort of a blessing for these stranded tourists.

However, there are some clips that these tourists shared on social media. They are incredibly grateful to the people Ella, Sri Lanka.

Singing “Bella Ciao” <3

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