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Sri Lanka resurrects tourism to attract 1.6 million tourists next year

Sri Lanka’s new tourism administration headed by Minister Harin Fernando has resurrected the socio-economic crisis battered hospitality industry with the untiring efforts of Tourism Development led by veteran tourism administrator Priyantha Fernando along with private stake holders, several travel trade analysts said.

The tourism authority had planned for 1.6 million foreign visitors in 2023. Priyantha Fernando said the authority is up to the challenge, but aggressive promotions must be carried out immediately

Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority is in the process of revising up its 2023 tourist arrival target after President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s interim budget aimed at much than higher expected arrival target in 2023.

It had earlier planned to attract 3 million tourists with a revenue of US$7 billion by 2027.

However, in the interim budget for 2022 presented by President Ranil Wickremesinghe has set a target of welcoming 2.5 million travelers by the end of 2023.

“Following the President’s interim budget proposal, the authority has to change these targets. We need to carry out aggressive work because the president wants to attract 2.5 million travelers by end next year with more high spenders,” Priyantha Fernando, the Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority said.

In the interim budget, President has proposed to allocate Rs. 300 million rupees to set up a special five-member committee to identify new tourist destinations in the island and to improve related facilities inorder to attract the 2.5 million travelers and high-end spenders.

As Sri Lanka is regaining a long awaited revival in its thrice-battered tourism industry, the country posted the earnings from the hospitality sector over US$ 100 million in November.

In November, Sri Lanka earned US$ 107.5 million from tourism trade, first time since April when the country last saw over US$ 100 million from the trade.

This brings the cumulative 11-month income from the trade to US$ 1,129.4 million, compared to US$ 273.6 million in the corresponding period in 2021 when the industry was severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

For the November 22 period, tourist arrivals totaled 19,979. The last time weekly tourist arrivals crossed the 19,000 mark was in the first week of April, when tensions from the economic and political crisis were building up in the island nation.

The growth in tourist arrivals witnessed in November is due to the increase in the number of international airlines flying to Colombo.

Further, for the first time since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Sri Lanka has been able to attract 4,000 tourists with the arrivals of three luxury cruise ships.

On November 18, luxury cruise ship Viking Mars arrived at the Colombo Port, bringing in 900 tourists. Earlier this week, super luxury cruise ship Mein Schiff 5 arrived in Sri Lanka with about 3,000 passengers.

The highest tourist arrivals was from the Russian Federation, which accounted for 23 percent of the total arrivals for the month of November.

India ranks as the second largest source market, contributing to 17 percent of the arrivals. Germany replaces the UK as the third largest tourist traffic generator for Sri Lanka, accounting for 9 percent of the arrivals. The UK dropped to the fourth position while ranking fifth is Australia.

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