Tourist arrivals on the rise signalling recovery


The tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka in June almost doubled from a month ago after the April 21 Easter Sunday carnage, although the arrivals were over 50 percent down from a year ago, the data released by the country’s tourism office showed.

Sri Lanka was able to welcome 63,072 tourists in June, up from 37,802 tourists in May. However, on a year-on-year (YoY) basis, the arrivals fell 57 percent from 146,828 visitors recorded for June 2018.

Accordingly, the cumulative arrivals for the first half of the year fell 13.4 percent YoY to just over a million tourists. Sri Lanka received 1.16 million tourists in the first half of 2018 and 2.33 million for the full year. The arrival target set for this year before the terrorist attacks was 2.5 million. 

The Easter Sunday bombings by home-grown jihadist terrorists dealt a deadly blow to the country’s booming 
tourism industry, 

which was targeting to increase its earnings to US $ 5 billion this year, from US $ 4.4 billion in 2018.

However, the Finance Ministry has estimated that the terrorist attacks, which targeted the churchgoers and patrons of three star-class hotels in Colombo, could cost the industry a US $ 1.5 billion loss. The government has launched a tourism industry relief package, which includes a one-year loan relief for the industry, to revive the hard-hit sector, which contributes to over 5 percent of the country’s GDP.

Tourism authorities estimate that a full recovery of the sector would at least take 12-13 months based on the average recovery periods of similar terrorist attacks on tourists destinations.  According to the data released by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, for the month of June, the arrivals from Asia and Pacific accounted for 54 percent of the total tourist arrivals. 

Europe accounted for 32 percent of the total traffic, America 9 percent, the Middle East 4 percent and Africa one percent. Country wise, India, Australia, the United Kingdom, China and the Maldives were Sri Lanka’s top five international tourist-generating markets in the month of June.

Over 15,000 Indian tourists visited Sri Lanka in June, although it was half the number of Indians visited Sri Lankan in June 2018. Region wise, arrivals from Asia and Pacific fell 60.5 percent YoY to 33,924 visitors. Tourist arrivals from China in June fell 82.9 percent YoY to 5,282.  

Tourists from Europe in June fell 51.4 percent YoY to 20,179. Arrivals from the UK fell 63.9 percent YoY to 4,365.

Tourist arrivals from the Middle East in June fell 65.4 percent YoY to 2,922 while arrivals from the Americas fell 38.1 percent YoY to 5,523.

While negative growths were registered from all Sri Lanka’s tourism source countries, Myanmar stood as the sole country from where Sri Lanka saw a positive growth as arrivals from that country grew 13.3 percent YoY to 149 in June. For the first half, tourist arrivals from Myanmar rose 7.2 percent YoY 1,303.


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