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Sri Lanka to attract more Indian tourists amidst present challenges  

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Sri Lanka Tourism Ministry is trying its level best to improve and promote tourist arrivals amidst unprecedented challenges of economic crisis and image tarnishing of Galle face green protesters by forcibly occupying makeshift tents near leading hotels in Colombo, official sources claimed.

It has been revealed that some of the leaders had gained forcible occupation in five star hotel rooms near Galle face green and presidential secretariat in Colombo forcing foreign travellers to cancel the hotel bookings.

Be that as it may, the Tourism Development Authority headed by an experienced and veteran professional in the industry at present Priyantha Fernando in collaboration with tourism sector stakeholders in implementing multi pronged strategy to attract more tourists even in the present crisis situation.

In an effort to woo Indian tourists into the island nation, Tourism minister Harin Fernando who was in Ahmedabad said that as things get back to normal after the recent political crisis in the island nation, the government aims to receive at least 10 lakh tourists this year, mostly from India.

Fernando, noted that religious and cultural tourism between Sri Lanka and India “will make a lot of sense”.

“There are a lot of commonalities we can find with India, and we think the next year will be mostly dedicated to India,” Fernando told reporters.

Sri Lanka has already logged five lakh tourists for the current year, and hopes to end the year with 10 lakh tourists, mostly from India, the minister said.

Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka edged up to 47, 293 in July compared to 32, 856 arrivals in June, though down from the peak of 106, 500 arrivals in March, just before the start of the unraveling of the political unrest triggered by the economic crisis, the worst in Sri Lanka’s post-independence history.

India accounted for the highest number of tourist arrival since July with 6, 031 Indians visiting Sri Lanka during July. Germany came up second with 3, 666 tourists and France in third place with 3,567 arrivals.Over 1, 900 visitors from the Russian Federation visited Sri Lanka during July. 

The top three source markets for Sri Lanka during the first seven months were India with 74, 790 arrivals, United Kingdom with 58. 879 arrivals and the Russian Federation with 48, 321.For the first seven months of the year, cumulative tourist arrivals to the country stood at 458, 670.

According to Central Bank data, Sri Lanka received just US$ 59.1 million from tourism in June, slightly up from US$ 54.3 million earned in May, but less than a third from US$ 191.5 million generated in March. With the June numbers, Sri Lanka had earned a cumulative US$ 739.8 million from tourism from a total of 411,377 visitors in the first six months of 2022.

He further said 2018 was the best for the country when around 23 lakh tourists visited and generated a revenue of $4-5 billion for the country, he said.

“We have $900 million coming from the tourism sector (so far this year), and are hoping that by the end of the year we might reach about $2 billion,” Fernando said.

The country hopes to end this year with 10 lakh tourists and the next year with 15-20 lakh tourists, he said.

Things have again started to pick up and currently, the country has been receiving close to 2,000 tourists per day (as against the peak of 7,000 per day), he said.

Sri Lankan cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya, who is the brand ambassador for Sri Lanka tourism, said his countrymen have realised that they need to come back to normal life.

“Sri Lankans want stability with the new government. People have seen this change with the fuel crisis and gas, and we do not have long queues anymore. That is what people need,” Jayasuriya said.

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