Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka in June increased by 4.5 percent year-on-year (YoY) to reach 123,351 visitors, recording the third highest monthly growth so far this year, despite occurring during the usual quiet period for tourism in the country.
Continuing the trend from last year, South Asia remained Sri Lanka’s largest regional market in June with 35,797 tourists, although recording no growth from 2016.
Inbound tourism from India grew 2.8 percent YoY to attract 27,826 tourists and 2,035 tourists arrived from Pakistan recording a 39.5 percent increase—both of which were overtaken by negative growths in arrivals from the Maldives and Nepal.
Western European arrivals grew 12.3 percent YoY with 33,228 tourists. The UK was the highest source market from the region with 10,424 tourists, growing at 10.8 percent YoY and sustaining growth recorded throughout the year.
Germany however was the biggest driver of growth from the region during June, growing 28.6 percent YoY to 7,024 visitors, after showing worrying signs earlier in the year.
The French market contracted by 8 percent YoY to 3,365 inbound tourists, further consolidating views that the landmark event hosted last year for the French travel trade may not have created much impact for Sri Lanka.
The East Asian market fell 5.7 percent YoY to 28,643 tourist arrivals, with the 13.8 percent contraction in arrivals from the Chinese market, which contributed 17,305 tourists to Sri Lanka tourism in June, suppressing gains from Japan—a market which grew 11.1 percent YoY with 2,970 tourist arrivals—and other countries.
North American arrivals grew 6.4 percent YoY with 8,547 visitors, almost evenly distributed between the US and Canada. Arrivals from Australasia, which is currently experiencing winter and has a large Sri Lankan expatriate community, grew 10.4 percent YoY with 7,093 visitors.
The Middle East market grew 124.3 percent YoY with 4,958 arrivals, despite a majority of the month falling within the Ramazan period. The growth was mainly driven by Saudi Arabia. The Eastern Europe market fell 18.3 percent YoY with 3,865 arrivals, with declines seen across almost all countries, led by Russia, which contributed 1,029 visitors and a negative growth of 36 percent. Just over one million arrivals were recorded for the first six months of 2017, growing just 4.8 percent YoY—as opposed to the required average growth of 22 percent in order to meet the government projection of 2.5 million tourists for 2017.
Tourist arrivals for the latter half of 2017 would have to grow at a staggering 37.09 percent in order to reach government projections.
The tourism authorities last month said there was no reason to revise its estimates. This was despite mounting evidence to the contrary and the lack of an ongoing tourism promotion campaign. Western Europe remained the largest regional market for the first half of 2017 with 330,334 arrivals, growing 9.1 percent YoY due to a strong performance of the market for the first two months of the year. The UK, the largest single source from Western Europe, grew steadily, while arrivals from Germany and France were low.
The South Asian market contracted 3.7 percent YoY with 232,084 arrivals during the first half, with no growth in arrivals from India, coupled with reduced interest from the Maldives and Nepal contributing to the fall in the figures.
East Asian arrivals for the six months increased 6.3 percent YoY to 220,297 tourists, with growth in arrivals from Japan and Indonesia picking up the pace, while Chinese arrivals—which contributed the most to Sri Lanka’s tourism growth last year—grew marginally. (CW)