6000 cruise tourists arrive at Hambantota Port marking tourism revival
By: Staff Writer
Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka cruise tourism industry is now on a steady path towards a strong revival following the record number cruise ship arrivals in the island, and will likely welcome an upbeat 2024, given the gradual return of cruise lines to the region,tourism ministry sources said.
The Hambantota International Port (HIP) has welcomed over 6000 tourists to Sri Lanka, in the latter part of November and during December. The passengers arrived on 5 cruise liners that called at the port.
The ‘Azamara Journey’ docked on 29 November carrying 620 passengers. The Luxury cruise liner Mein Schiff 5 which arrived in Sri Lanka from Muscat on 10 December, called at HIP on 11, carrying 2200 passengers.
A group of disembarking passengers from the luxury liner got on e-bikes to go sightseeing in the Hambantota area, keeping with HIP’s green-port drive. This is the cruise ship’s second call for 2023, and its 3rd call at the port, counting the visit in May last year.
Other cruise ships that called were the ‘Celebrity Millennium’ on 5 and 16 December carrying 3500 passengers and the ‘Nautica’ which arrived on 19 December bringing 498 visitors.
To date this year, HIP has recorded approximately 22 cruise ship calls with most of them arriving from Chennai, via Cordelia Cruise Lines.
The shipping line, which offers holiday packages to Indian and international travellers, made a number of ship calls to HIP from June to September this year, on their cruise liner ‘Empress.’ Approximately 7500 tourists arrived at the port throughout the year.
The Nautica and the Celebrity Millennium are bound for Phuket Thailand as their next port of call while the ‘Azamara Journey’ is headed to Sabang, Indonesia.
The Mein Schiff 5 is on her onward journey to the Langkawi archipelago in Malaysia. The port’s initiatives to develop the cruise business as well as enhanced facilities to ships and passengers have paid off, resulting in the increase of ship calls HIP.
Seventeen cruise ships have already arrived in Sri Lanka with Queen Mary 2, one of the largest and popular ships, Colombo’s harbor master said, as the island nation is looking for alternative avenues to boost its faltered tourism sector.
The rise is expected to bring thousands of high end tourists with higher spending capacity after two years. The island nation saw a record high 54 ships in 2019, rising from the previous year’s 42, Nimal Silva, Colombo Port Harbor Master said.