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Tourism Minister vows to take stern action on those harassing tourists

Government will be taking stern action against persons who are harassing tourists visiting the island.

Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga has written to Inspector General of Police (IGP) Chandana D. Wickramaratne calling for the law to be strictly enforced on those found to be harassing tourists in Sri Lanka.

A number of incidents where tourists were harassed were reported on social media.The Minister noted that such incidents could affect the tourism industry which is gradually recovering following the Covid pandemic.

He also said that such incidents could harm the image of Sri Lanka and so legal action must be taken against the perpetrators.

The Tourism Minister requested the IGP to pay close attention to the situation and take appropriate action.

Earlier this month,the police launched investigations into similar incidents where two German women were sexually abused by locals in two separate incidents in Kollupitiya, Tangalle.

Minister Ranatunga requested the IGP to pay special attention to this matter as the damage caused to the country’s image and the tourism industry due to such incidents could be rectified only by enforcing the law against those involved in these incidents.

Meanwhile, the Tourism Development Authority said that a total of 175,909 tourists have arrived in the country from January 1 to February 27 this year.

Among them, 28,392 tourists have arrived in the country from Russia while 24,141 tourists from India, 17,749 from the UK, 13,039 from Ukraine and 12,779 from Germany.

According to Tourism Ministry statistics, a 14% growth in tourist arrivals was reported from Januarydue easing of travel restrictions along with tourism promotion campaigns , continued service from more airlines, successful vaccination program and growing traveller confidence.

February arrivals also recorded new high surpassing the previous high of 89,506 posted in December 2021 since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. In February, an average of 3,466 tourists arrived in the country on a daily basis.

Despite a surge in its COVID cases and declaring war, Russia continues to dominate as the top tourist source market for Sri Lanka with 28,392 tourists so far, followed by India with 24,141, UK 17,749, Ukraine 13,039 and Germany 12,779.

In addition, tourists also visited the island from countries such as France, Poland, Australia, Kazakhstan and Maldives in February.

The first week of February recorded 22,411 tourist arrivals and it was increased in the second and third weeks to 24,871 and 25,766 respectively.

However, the fourth week showed a sharp drop with 20,534 just yesterday’s data pending, which could be attributed to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In February, a total of 14,914 Russian travellers and 5,267 Ukrainian tourists were received.

Sri Lanka revised down the tourist arrivals forecast for 2022 to 1.1 million from an earlier ambitious goal of luring 2.3 million, a move influenced by the surge in ‘Omicron’ variant in major source markets.

However, Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga expressed the belief of attracting 150,000 travellers monthly in the next six months.

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