The 13th International Conference of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies (EASTS) will be held from September 9-12, 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. However, with the bombings last April 2019, a lot of people mainly prospective participants have worried about the security situation in the city. The local society in the Philippines, the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines (TSSP), also communicated its members’ concerns to the EASTS Secretariat. While TSSP received informal correspondence on the situation and assessment by the secretariat, only recently has the EASTS policy been released:
In addition to this, the organisers have sent the following email to assure prospective participants about the security situation in the city and country, which I quote below:
Thank you for submitting a paper for EASTS 2019, the 13th International Conference of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies hosted by Sri Lanka Society of Transport & Logistics (SLSTL). We are pleased that EASTS has decided to continue with hosting the conference in Sri Lanka, despite the unfortunate incident, that took place on the 21st of April 2019 taking into consideration the rapidly improving situation in Sri Lanka.
As the host institution I write to encourage your participation and wish to convey that the decision to continue was made based on the following facts and security measures currently in place.
· There have been no further terror attacks since 21st April the day of the Easter bombings.
· Security Forces have identified those responsible and arrests have been made both in SL and overseas.
· The attacked churches (St. Anthony’s Shrine, Kochchikade, St. Sebastian’s Church, Katuwapitiya and Zion Church, Batticaloa) and hotels (The Kingsbury, Shangri-La Colombo and Cinnamon Grand Hotel) are now restored, refurbished and opened to the public.
· Emergency has been lifted and the country is functioning normally.
· All schools, universities, Government and private workplaces, hotels, public places, etc. have implemented body and bag/luggage scanning.
· UK relaxes travel advisory to Sri Lanka
· India relaxes travel advisory to Sri Lanka
· Switzerland relaxes travel restrictions to Sri Lanka
· China lifts travel advisory on Sri Lanka
· Australia relaxes travel advisory on Sri Lanka
· Italy relaxes travel advisory
· Germany soften travel advisories on Sri Lanka
Hotel security has been strengthened and meetings are held periodically. SLSTL is satisfied that all the nominated hotels and the Waters’ Edge, the site of the conference have made arrangement that allow a safe environment for the conference to be conducted. See below article in this regard The Kingsbury stands strong.
In order to solicit the highest level of Government support for the conference, Prof. Tetsuo Yai, President, EASTS and Prof. Shinya Hanaoka, Deputy Secretary General, EASTS have also been invited to make a personal visit to Sri Lanka to meet the relevant Government Ministers and Heads of Security Establishments ahead of the conference to finalize arrangements.
As such we are confident that Sri Lanka is now very much safer than before the incident and we encourage you to take part in the conference without fear.
We look forward to welcoming you in Sri Lanka for EASTS 2019.
Prof. Amal S. Kumarage
President – Sri Lanka Society of Transport and Logistics (SLSTL)
Senior Professor, Department of Transport & Logistics, University of Moratuwa”
Here is the link to the EASTS page providing information about the conference: http://easts.info/easts-conference/
I am among those looking forward to traveling to Sri Lanka this coming September. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country and I became familiar with it mainly through a close friend I met when we were students in Japan. We still keep in touch through email after he moved with his family. They are now residing in Australia.