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Local tourism industry in for fresh slowdown with COVID-19 third wave picking up in source markets

20 April 2021 09:33 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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  • Industry stakeholders say a slowdown in tourist traffic is inevitable
  • SL attracted over 9,600 tourists in 1Q since opening up of airports in late Jan.

By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
Sri Lanka’s hard-hit tourism sector, which has entered into a path of gradual recovery, could be in for another slowdown, as its key source markets are grappling with the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.


While arrivals were seen to be slowly picking up since the opening of Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake and Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport in end-January, this year, the tourism industry may witness another hit, of which the impacts could be seen in the coming weeks, industry sources said.


Speaking to Mirror Business, the senior representatives of the local tourism and hospitality sector affirmed that a slowdown is inevitable although measures have been taken by Sri Lankan authorities to contain the spread of the virus in the country.


“Tourists from Europe, especially Russia and Ukraine, continued to express that they were less inclined to visit Sri Lanka, as they found the restrictions in place to be too strict. While that was beginning to impact us, the third wave that is picking up in our source markets will create a dip in the tourism sector and the support industries,” a senior travel sector representative said on the basis of anonymity.


“We are unsure what the situation will turn out to be but the stakeholders are sharing their inputs and are charting plans to minimise the possible implication,” the representative added.Sri Lanka received 4,582 tourists in March, up from 3,366 in February and 1,682 in January.


The cumulative tourist arrivals for the first quarter of 2021 stood at 9,629, down over 98 percent from a year ago.
The largest source markets in March were Kazakhstan, followed by Germany and the United Kingdom.


Meanwhile, adding to the existing woes will also be airlines further tightening the occupancy cap. Currently, international flights are limited to an occupancy rate of 75 percent and with the recent surge in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths across the world, discussions are being carried out to reduce the cap further.
A third wave of COVID-19 is now sweeping across Europe, where coronavirus cases and deaths are on the rise and the continent’s slow vaccine roll out is aggravating the crisis further.

Attempting to contain the pandemic from further escalating, several countries are seen extending and reintroducing lockdowns and restrictions on movement. According to the World Health Organisation, the surge is fuelled by the new variants of the virus such as the B117 mutation first detected in the United Kingdom. To ensure Sri Lanka is safeguarded from further shocks stemming from the pandemic, authorities may be compelled to further strengthen restrictions on tourist arrivals, Mirror Business learns. However, in an effort to maintain tourist traffic, national carrier SriLankan Airlines has brought down a delegation from India on a familiarisation tour of the 
island nation.


According to SriLankan Airlines, the objective of the familiarisation was to restore confidence in visiting Sri Lanka and provide an in-depth knowledge on the operation of the bio-bubble concept.


As of yesterday, India had reported 2,73,810 new COVID-19 cases and 1,619 fatalities. Due to a sharp increase in the number of cases, a seven-day lockdown has been imposed in New Delhi, until next Monday, April 26. Strict lockdown-like restrictions have also been imposed in Maharashtra, whereas in Gujarat, experts have called for a 15-day self-imposed lockdown. 

 

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See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

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See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.