The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) took part in the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) for the 14th consecutive year recently, in an attempt to attract more tourists from the Middle East region to Sri Lanka, an SLTPB press release stated.
The Middle East contributes to around 5 percent of total tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka, with 101,066 tourists out of 1.80 million total in 2015 and 107,635 tourists out of a total 2.05 million in 2016, growing at around 6.5 percent year-on-year.
However, the SLTPB said that “usually the Middle East region contributes over 7 percent to 8 percent for the total tourist arrivals for Sri Lanka every year”.
Further, the SLTPB said that Sri Lanka’s tourism arrivals in 2016 grew at 22.1 percent and that the 2.4 million arrivals goal for 2017 signifies a 26 percent growth rate.
However, according to the official statistics published by the SLTPB’s sister organisation, the growth rate in 2016 was 14 percent, while the goal for 2017 requires a growth rate of 17 percent, amidst a clear pattern of declining growth.
The SLTPB said that in order to face intense competition from regional and global destinations, Sri Lanka focused on specific promotions under eight themes and the three unique selling propositions of diversity, authenticity and compactness.
It said that in order to accomplish government arrival growth targets, the country’s tourism offering will be further diversified through efficient connectivity across the island, enhanced products and elevating service standards.
The SLTPB further added that the government plans to introduce a new zonal development for tourism and place special emphasis on preservation of cultural, religious and natural resources.
Under the Right to Information Act No. 12 of 2016 and its regulations, government institutions are required to proactively disclose such plans and also disclose decision-making processes and opportunities for public participation on planning.
There was no proactive disclosure on the government’s plans for the ATM either.