By:Staff WriterColombo (LNW): Sri Lanka hopes to double tourist arrivals to 1.5 million next year and bring in US $ 5 billion in vital foreign exchange the tourism minister said as the country seeks ways and means to tackle its worst economic crisis in seven decades.
Sri Lanka would likely end this calendar year with 750,000 tourist arrivals and about $2 billion in earnings, Fernando said, adding his ministry would be targetting high end tourists and introducing new products in 2023.
Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is experiencing a notable surge in tourist arrivals, with the first 13 days of July welcoming a total of 55,566 tourists, whilst pushing the cumulative number of visitors to 680,440.
Leading the influx of tourists for the month so far is India, with 8,169 arrivals accounting for 18% of the total, followed by the United Kingdom with 4,474 visitors (10%), while China has made significant progress by securing the third spot with 2,893 tourists (6%). Germany and Russia also contribute to the tourist traffic, with 2,824 (6%) and 2,599 (5%) arrivals, respectively.
China’s rapid ascent to the top three source markets is noteworthy, attributed to the resumption of operations by its national carrier, Air China, with three weekly flights. In 2018, before the Easter Sunday terror attacks,
China had been the second-largest source of tourists for Sri Lanka, with 265,965 arrivals. However, this figure dropped to 167,863 in 2019 due to the aftermath of the attacks.
Post-COVID pandemic, China included Sri Lanka in a pilot program to resume outbound tourism, and on 1 March, the first batch of Chinese tourists arrived after a hiatus of three years.
Encouraged by the positive trend in arrivals, Sri Lanka Tourism has set an ambitious target of welcoming 137,594 tourists for the entire month of July.
According to the provincial data released by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), tourists from other countries like the Maldives, France, Australia, Canada and the United States have also contributed to the recent influx.
Analysing the year-to-date figures, India remains the dominant source market, accounting for 126,187 arrivals (19%). Russia closely follows with 112,993 arrivals (17%), while the United Kingdom, Germany, and France contribute 56,439, 48,541, and 30,318 arrivals, respectively.
In a recent statement, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman, Chalaka Gajabahu, identified India and China as primary source markets for the foreseeable future, citing Europe’s ongoing economic recession as a contributing factor to this strategic decision.
Building on the positive momentum, Sri Lanka Tourism has expressed confidence in the industry’s potential to welcome two million arrivals and generate $ 3.7 billion in income this year. Looking ahead, the country has set ambitious goals of increasing arrivals to 5 million and generating an impressive $ 21.6 billion in revenue by 2030.
The rise in tourist arrivals is not only a positive sign for Sri Lanka’s tourism industry but also signifies the country’s growing appeal as a travel destination.
With its rich cultural heritage, scenic landscapes, and warm hospitality, Sri Lanka aims to solidify its position as a top choice for global travellers in the coming years.