By: Staff Writer
Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is witnessing an encouraging resurgence in the first nine months of 2023, with the number of tourist arrivals showing a marked increase in comparison to the previous year, according to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA).
Tourism earnings in the first eight months of 2023 were over US$ 1.3 billion, reflecting a 56.7% increase from the corresponding period of last year, whilst August earnings stood at $ 210.5 million, as per latest Central Bank data.
June alone accounted for 84,003 of these arrivals. An interesting insight from SLTDA’s data revealed that the majority of tourists in June were Indian nationals, with their count standing at 22,388. This influx from the neighboring country underscores the strong cultural and historical ties shared by India and Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka has attracted 111,938 tourists in September, missing the monthly target of 120,201 and marking lowest figure since June though the country saw cumulative performance crossing the important 1 million mark for the first time in three years.
Over the first nine months of the year, arrivals reached 1.01 million, a remarkable rebound of 275.6% from the crisis-hit year of 2022, which saw only 29,802 arrivals, tourism development authority divulged.
However, the performance remains 25% lower compared to the same period in the benchmark year of 2018. September figure is also the lowest since June’s 100,388. In July and August arrivals amounted to 143,039 and 136,405 respectively.
In September, India emerged as the leading tourist-generating market with 30,063 visitors, constituting 27% of the total arrivals. Following closely were China with 8,445 arrivals, the UK with 7,504, Germany with 7,231, and Russia with 7,163.
Additionally, visitors from Australia, Israel, the Netherlands, France, and Canada contributed to the influx.
Notably, there was a significant surge in tourists from China, possibly attributed to the Golden Week holidays, which last for eight days from 29 September to 6 October, with bookings up nearly 20 times compared with last year.
According to the report released by the Golden Holidays period. Israel also played a role in this surge as its national carrier commenced direct flights to Colombo securing the seventh place.
In terms of year-to-date arrivals, India remained strong as the top market with 200,310 tourists, followed by Russia with 132,300 and the UK with 90.843.
The rise in tourist arrivals signals a promising development for Sri Lanka›s tourism industry, which faced successive challenges due to the Easter Sunday bombings in 2019, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the economic crisis in 2022.
Sri Lanka Tourism authorities are cautiously optimistic about the prospects of continued recovery in the forthcoming winter season, with aspirations to welcome 1.55 million visitors by year’s end.