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Sri Lanka Tourism sees April decline in international visitors

May 06, Colombo (LNW): In April, Sri Lanka’s tourism sector experienced a decline in momentum as the number of international visitors dropped below 200,000 for the first time this year, provisional data from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) revealed.

The total tourist arrivals for April amounted to 148,867, marking a 41 per cent increase compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.

However, this figure represents a significant decrease from the 209,181 tourist arrivals recorded in the previous month of March.

Since December 2023, Sri Lanka has consistently attracted over 200,000 tourists each month, marking the first time this milestone was achieved since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic.

This positive momentum persisted for four consecutive months before experiencing a contraction in April.

Such declines are not uncommon as April typically marks the beginning of a quieter period before a resurgence in July.

While a decline was anticipated, tourism authorities have attributed the steep drop in April to various factors, including the implementation of a new visa system introduced on 17th April.

This new system, which is perceived as more expensive and less convenient compared to the previous Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), has generated considerable discussion since its rollout.

In the latest tourist arrivals update, the SLTDA noted that arrival numbers have been “updated” to reflect the new visa categories introduced by the Department of Immigration and Emigration.

This update indicates an increase in arrival numbers. SLTDA Chairman Priantha Fernado emphasised that he would provide further clarity after seeking clarification from immigration authorities, according to Daily Mirror.

Fernado highlighted that immigration serves as the primary source for obtaining arrival data and noted changes in categorisation, including visitors for Friends and Relatives, Business, and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions).

India, the Russian Federation, and the UK emerged as the top three source markets for Sri Lanka tourism in April, contributing 18 per cent, 10 per cent, and 9 per cent of total tourist arrivals, respectively.

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