Tourist arrivals cross 600,000 mark after three successive blows
Tourism in Sri Lanka has yet to recover fully from three consecutive blows inflicted by the 2019 Easter bombs, two pandemic years, and the island’s worst economic crisis in decades this year.
After more than 20 years of civil war, which ended in 2009,, the island of idyllic landscapes and white sand beaches was on pace to boost tourism. The sector grew to become one of the largest foreign-exchange earners in the country.
According to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, tourism remained the third greatest source of foreign money in the five years beginning in 2014, accounting for 14 percent of the total, behind only remittances sent by the diaspora and the textile industry. In 2018, the island received a record 2.3 million visitors.
Sri Lanka has revised tourist arrival expectations for 2022 and also lowered revenue targets for the year, Minister of Tourism Harin Fernando said.
Total tourist arrivals for the year so far till end September is roughly 526,000 and generated only around 829 million US dollars in revenue.
The crossing of the $ 1 billion mark follows October earnings amounting to $ 75.6 million up from $ 53.6 million in September this year. In October last year earnings amounted to $ 59.3 million.
Tourism authorities had anticipated one million arrivals generating a revenue of 1.8 billion dollars.
Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka have exceeded 600,000 year-to-date despite the multiple challenges, both nationally and internationally.
As per provisional data released by the Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), the country has welcomed 31,302 tourists during the first 17 days of the month.
It also showed that the arrivals are averaging an improved 1,800 per day this month as against 1,355 in October, mainly boosted by Russian travellers.
Russia emerged as the top source market, reflecting 24% or 7,684 of total arrivals during the first 17 days followed by India with 17% or 5,279, the United Kingdom with 8% or 2,538, Germany with 7% or 2,115, and Australia with 5% or 1,527.
Minister Fernando also expressed confidence of achieving the set arrivals target of 800,000 by end of December, if the daily average arrivals pick up to over 2,500.
It is noteworthy that India also crossed 100,000 cumulative number of arrivals, to 100,766 securing the top tourist source market for Sri Lanka YTD, followed by the UK with 75,340, Russia with 65,173, Germany with 47,504, France with 31,826, Australia with 24,354, Canada with 23,348, US 17,371, Maldives 14,845 and Ukraine 14,376.
Tourism industry experts said the resumption of many new international airlines and charter flights in the first two weeks of the month as well as the global promotions at the ITM Paris, Indian and WTM were the key reasons for the favourable pick-up arrival figures.