By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
September turned out to be splendid for local tourism as the industry saw arrivals for the month swelling 35.9 percent year-on-year (YoY), recording the highest growth since the beginning of 2015. Latest statistics released by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) showed that while India regaining its place as the nation’s top tourism source market from China with 27, 233 travellers, South Asia broke Western Europe’s position becoming the largest regional market, which the latter maintained for eight consecutive months straight, by bringing in 40,498 visitors.
In addition to India, which recorded an increase of 41.5 percent yoy, top contributors in making that region take the lead was Maldives and Pakistan with 8,216 and 3,050 travellers, showing yoy increases of 30.9 percent and 72.1 percent.
Arrivals from Western Europe, becoming the second largest regional source, expanded by 26.9 percent, mainly due the United Kingdom (UK) with 11,160 arrivals, Germany with 8,292, and France with 4,709, showing yoy increases of 24.2 percent, 18.5 percent and 20.8 percent, respectively. Denmark showed the highest yoy growth for the region with an increase of 70 percent compared to the corresponding month the previous year.
East Asia, the third highest regional source, continued to be a steady contributor to local tourism despite falling one notch below from its previous rank.
Arrivals from the region increased by 34.9 percent yoy and China remains the highest contributor having recorded a yoy growth of 54 percent.
While Japan and the Philippines were amongst the countries that brought higher number of visitors, the former continues to show dampened growth with numbers dropping to 3, 698 from 3,943, recoding a negative YoY growth of 6.2 percent.
Unlike the previous month, visitors from the Middle East increased by 65.9 percent to 13, 752. While numbers from Saudi Arabiya and United Arab Emirates (UAE) grew 43.5 percent and 73.5 percent YoY with 6,361 and 844 visitors, respectively, Israel showed an impressive growth of 185.1 percent compared to the corresponding period the previous year.
Eastern Europe too showed an increase of travellers with a growth on 21.9 percent, but arrivals from Russia depreciated by 7.6 percent compared to the previous year. Australasia saw satisfactory growth with the visitors increasing by 23.5 percent yoy to 6,063, due to arrivals from Australia and New Zealand having increased by 21.4 percent and 42.4 percent, respectively.
Looking at the cumulative figures it is observed that from the beginning of the year Sri Lanka has managed to attract an average of 140,000 tourists for most months. The highest number of arrivals was recorded in July with the country having welcomed 175,804 tourists.
In the year-to-date, Sri Lanka has welcomed 1,315,839 tourists, signifying a 17.1 pecent yoy growth.
The country targets 1.8 million tourists end 2015. Sri Lanka must aim at attracting 484,161 tourists in next three months if it is to reach the set target.