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Tourist arrivals in the country record 50,000 mark in first two weeks of February

Sri Lanka plans to double tourist arrivals to 1.5 million this year and bring in US$ 5 billion in vital foreign exchange, the Tourism Minister said, as the island nation seeks ways to tackle its worst financial crisis in seven decades.

The country of 22 million people, famed for its beaches, ancient temples and aromatic tea, has been struggling for months to pay for essential imports of fuel, food and medicine because of a lack of foreign exchange.

“Tourism can play a major role in Sri Lanka’s recovery and this is what we are aiming for next year,” Tourism Minister Harin Fernando said. .

Tourist arrivals to destination Sri Lanka have crossed the 50,000 mark for the first two weeks of February, refreshing hopes for a faster recovery in the tourism sector, which is a key source of foreign exchange to the dollar-starved economy.

According to provisional data from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), for February 1 to 14, a total of 54,685 international visitors entered the country.

When compared with the corresponding period of the previous year, arrivals had expanded by about 15 percent. In 2022, from February 1 to 14, Sri Lanka saw 47,282 tourists entering the country.

The cumulative arrivals for the 1 January to 14 February period stood at 157,230, which is a 21 percent Year-on-Year (YoY) increase. In 2022, the cumulative tourist arrivals for the same period stood at 129,609.

Weekly analysis of the tourist arrivals numbers too shows an improvement. While week one of February (1 – 7) welcomed 26,506 international visitors, week two saw the number increasing to 28,179.

Emerging as the largest tourist traffic generator for Sri Lanka was the Russian Federation as it accounted for 26 percent of the total arrivals for the first two weeks of February.

India ranked as the second bringing in 12 percent of the total arrivals.The United Kingdom (UK) stood as the third largest contributor for Sri Lanka tourism, bringing in 9 percent of the total arrivals.

To realise the monthly arrivals target of 105,000 tourist arrivals set by the Ministry of Tourism, Sri Lanka would need to lure in 50,135 more international travelers by February 28.

Which means for the coming two weeks the island nation would need to have a daily arrival average of 3,581. For the first two weeks of February, the daily arrival average was 3,906. As of 14 February, 52 percent of the monthly tourist arrival target was realized.

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