Tourism arrivals to Sri Lanka in 2018 continued to grow in double digits for the second consecutive month in February, with China reclaiming the top spot as the largest tourist sourcing country after a lapse of 18 months, according to data released by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.
Arrivals to the island reached 235,618 tourists, which was a 19.3 percent year-on-year (YoY) increase over February 2017. The partial closure of the airport in the first 4 months of 2017 had contributed to a lower base figure for tourist arrivals to grow from.
Last month also saw the second consecutive month of double digit arrivals, signalling a return to Sri Lanka’s normal tourism growth rate this year, after 2017 turned out disappointing for the tourism industry, with most months recording low single digit, and at times negative arrivals growth, resulting in just 3.2 percent YoY growth for 2017.
Western Europe remained the largest regional market for Sri Lanka’s tourism industry during the waning winter period with 82,310 arrivals which was a 7.2 percent growth YoY despite political uncertainty in the Eurozone.
The British market expanded 17.8 percent YoY attracting 23,817 tourists. The number of Germans visiting Sri Lanka increased 16 percent YoY to 17,066 tourists, while 16,871 French visited the island, which was a 21.3 percent growth YoY.
The second largest regional market was East Asia, with 50,192 arrivals, growing at a rate of 21.1 percent YoY during the month in which the Traditional Chinese New Year Falls, after recording negative growth last year.
Chinese arrivals grew by 42.3 percent YoY to 35,929 tourists, while arrivals from Japan grew by 10.6 percent YoY to 5,263 tourists.
Arrivals from South Asia meanwhile grew by 17.2 percent YoY to 41,177 tourists led by a 25.1 percent YoY increase in arrivals from India, from where 32,914 tourists were sourced. Arrivals from the Maldives, where political unrest continues, fell by 7.4 percent YoY to 4,726 tourists.
Arrivals from Eastern Europe grew by 20.3 percent YoY to 28,601 tourists.
Arrivals from Russia and Ukraine both grew slightly above average, bringing in 11,043 and 5,138 tourists respectively. Notably, the Polish market grew by 70.3 percent YoY to 3,195 tourists as well.
The North American market grew by 27.5 percent YoY to 10,823 tourists, while the Australasian market too grew at an identical rate, bringing in 6,357 tourists. Arrivals from the Middle East however contracted by 29.6 percent YoY to 3,894 tourists.
The first two months of this year saw the arrival of 474,542 tourists, which was a 13.8 percent growth YoY.
With the continued absence of a tourism promotions campaign, the arrivals trend appears to have returned to the diminishing growth trend witnessed up to 2016, when setting aside 2017, where natural disasters, a dengue epidemic and the airport closure resulted in a flat year.
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