Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals in May fell 70 percent year-on-year (YoY) to 37,000 in the aftermath of Easter Sunday attacks, with the largest decline in arrivals recording from China.
“We have been talking about hotels going empty and westerners not visiting Sri Lanka. However, with safety being restored, we see numbers slightly edging up,” Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) Chairman Kishu Gomes said.
According to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), during the period between April 21 to May 21, tourist arrivals from top 10 tourism source markets of Sri Lanka, except Russia, have declined in the range of 40 to 90 percent.
Despite retaining the top position during the period, tourist arrivals from India declined to 9,238 compared to 34,167 arrivals in May last year.
The Indian tourist arrivals however slightly recovered during the first three weeks of May, compared to the latter part of April in the immediate aftermath of Easter Sunday attacks.
The largest decline in arrivals was recorded from China, where arrivals declined to mere 1,762 compared to 18,494 arrivals in May, last year.
Gomes noted that despite the travel warnings, tourists from Europe, Australia and North America continued to visit Sri Lanka.
From Easter Sunday to May 21, tourist arrivals from Australia and France declined to 2,484 and 2,015, respectively, which was below the average rate of decline among top source markets of Sri Lanka.
Tourist arrivals from the United Kingdom (UK) during the period declined to 3,297 and the UK replaced China as the second largest tourism source market for Sri Lanka in the first five months of the year.
A similar drop in tourist arrivals was recorded from Germany and the United States.
On the contrary, 1,568 tourists from Russia visited Sri Lanka in the 30-day period, which was slightly above the Russian tourist arrival figure for May last year.
Gomes noted that eight countries so far have softened their travel advisories on Sri Lanka.
Germany, India, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Italy, China and Belgium softened their travel advisories on Sri Lanka while more countries are expected to follow suit in near future.
According to government projections, tourist arrivals to the country could decline by 30 percent to around 1.6 million this year due to impacts of Easter Sunday attacks.
Up to May, the cumulative tourist arrivals declined by 7.1 percent YoY, to 944,575 tourists. (Nishel Fernando)