- SL earns US $ 952mn in first half of 2020, compared to US $ 1.9bn a year ago
- Arrivals down to little over 500,000, from 1mn a year ago
- SL recorded zero tourist arrivals for April, May and June
Earnings from the tourism trade, Sri Lanka’s second largest foreign currency income after worker remittances, took nearly a 50 percent plunge during the first six months to June, as all forms of cross-border travel were suspended from mid-March since fears of foreign visitors could carry the deadly virus traced back to China.
Sri Lanka earned US $ 956.2 million from the tourism trade in the first six months of 2020, compared to US $ 1.9 billion earned in the corresponding six months in 2019—a figure which was also seriously damaged by the Easter Sunday attacks, as the arrivals nosedived by as much as 70 percent in May 2019, before making some gradual recovery.
The decline corresponded with the plunge in arrivals to 507,311, with April, May and June having recorded zero arrivals, due to the border closure on March 18.
During the same period in 2019, Sri Lanka welcomed little over a million tourists, albeit that number too was significantly impaired from the arrivals in 2018.
Sri Lanka is set to open the borders for tourists next month.
Sri Lanka’s resort sector has been welcoming local tourists since early June, under the guidelines issued for reopening by the health authorities.
The travel and tourism sector is expected to see a pent-up demand in the aftermath of the virus, as people who were stuck at homes for more than two months are growing impatient to resume travel and visit places.
Last week, taking part in a webinar organised by John Keells Stockbrokers, emerging market investor Mark Mobius called for an end to lockdowns, as people have to go back to work to make economies work.
He also was confident about global tourism recovering as people were impatient to move after being trapped in lockdowns for months. Meanwhile, among the leading source markets for Sri Lanka during the first three months were India with a 17.6 percent share, the United Kingdom with a 10.9 percent share, Russia with a 9.7 percent share, Germany with a 6.8 percent share and China with a 5.2 percent share.
In 2019, Sri Lanka earned US $ 3.6 billion from the tourism trade, with 1.9 million arrivals, compared to US $ 4.4 billion in earnings in 2018, with 2.3 million arrivals.