Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka in June rose 2.2 percent from a year ago – the slowest in a month so far this year – to 118,038, with arrivals from China growing the fastest and India leading the pack as the largest source market, the data released by the agency for tourism development showed. According to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority’s monthly bulletin, the total arrivals for the first six months (1H16) rose 16.2 percent year-on-year (YoY) to 964,267. Sri Lanka targets 2.2 million arrivals by the end of the year, down from the earlier projected 2.5 million. The arrivals from China rose 28.8 percent YoY to 19,952,
while for the six months, the arrivals rose over 40 percent YoY to 132,842. The Indian Ocean island has been an attractive tourist hotspot for the growing middle class in China. India continued to remain as the top sourcing market for Sri Lanka with little over 27,000 arrivals in June recording a 4.7 percent growth YoY. During the first half, 172,841 Indians have visited Sri Lanka – a 19 percent increase from the same period last year.
The arrivals from the United Kingdom (UK) – the top sourcing market in the Western Europe – were 9,406, an increase of 9.6 percent YoY. The total arrivals from the UK during the first half rose by little under 20 percent YoY to 86,701.
It expected that the weakened sterling pound after the Brexit would make outbound travel for Britons expensive. Such a development could have a shortterm negative impact for arrivals from the UK. Nevertheless, the same phenomenon has turned the UK into a much sort-after destination for visitors from other parts of the world, specially for those who seek luxury goods at a considerable discount.
Arrivals from Germany – the second largest sourcing market in the region – saw a contraction of 3.3 percent YoY to 5,461 but for the first half the total arrivals rose 13.2 percent YoY to 64,567. The national carrier, SriLankan Airlines now deciding to stop direct flights to Europe barring London could result in some reduction in arrival numbers from the region. Western Europe brings 50,000 tourists a month on average. Meanwhile, Russian arrivals slumped 28.2 percent YoY to 1,608 in June with total arrivals for the first half contracting by 15.5 percent YoY to 28,677.
Middle East as a region saw a significant contraction in arrivals in June with only 2,210 tourists visiting the country in June, recording a 58.2 percent decline YoY. For the first half the arrival growth slowed down to 1.9 percent YoY to 39,117. Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is divided whether to promote the country as a low-cost destination or a high-end attraction and the lack of clarity on this crucial aspect has left Sri Lanka minus a proper marketing and destination strategy.