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Tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka top 100,000 in first half of February

By: Staff Writer

February 20, Colombo (LNW): In the wake of brimming tourism early this year, President Ranil Wickremesinghe paid an observation visit to Tangalle and Galle areas underscoring the government’s commitment to enhancing tourist facilities.

During the tour, President Wickremesinghe visited several tourist hotels, engaging with owners to understand their challenges first hand.

Amid a rejuvenated focus on revitalizing Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, Swift action was taken as the President addressed the concerns raised by the business community, liaising with relevant officials over the phone to devise solutions and gather input on industry development strategies.

The tourism sector in Sri Lanka faced a rapid downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic challenges. However, with the government’s new initiatives, there has been a significant surge in tourist arrivals.

 Building on this momentum, the government aims to surpass the peak of 2.5 million tourists in 2017, with plans underway to achieve this milestone by 2024.

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is experiencing a striking influx as the country welcomed over 100,000 tourists in the first 15 days of February, continuing to set an optimistic tone for 2024.

Accodibnf to Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) released provisional figures yesterday, indicating that 115,328 tourists were welcomed in the first half of the month, pushing the year-to-date (YTD) figure to 323,581.

This achievement exceeds the total arrivals recorded for the entire month of February in 2023 which was registered at 107,639.

Industry analysts said the sector is making significant strides toward its ambitious goal of 238,614 monthly arrivals for February, where 52% of this target has already been accomplished within the first half of the month.

The data also showed that the daily average arrivals have picked up to 7,689 in February so far, a stark increase compared to last year as well as to January which stood at 6,717

In a bid to attract high-end tourists, who spend $500 a day, the government has rolled out infrastructure development projects and innovative tourism promotion programs.

President Wickremesinghe exchanged ideas with the business community in Tangalle and Galle  regarding these initiatives, receiving positive feedback on the transformative impact of the government’s programs on their operations.

The President’s itinerary included visits to tourist hotspots such as Seenimodara, Dikwella, Nilwella, Hiriketiya, Weligama, and Habaraduwa, as well as the Weligama Surf School along the south coast, where he assessed their activities firsthand.

Russia leads the arrivals during the first 15 days of the month with 16,701 visitors, followed by India with 15,220 and the UK contributing 11,548 arrivals. In addition, visitors from China, Germany, France, Poland, Australia, US and the Netherlands were also welcomed.

India maintains its position as the top tourist source market for Sri Lanka year-to-date (YTD), with a cumulative total of 49,619 arrivals, followed by Russia with 47,860, UK with 28,213, Germany with 21,671 and China with 20,587 arrivals. For 2024, Sri Lanka Tourism has set an ambitious target to welcome 2.3 million tourists and earn over $ 4.5 billion

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