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Thursday August 18th, 2022

Crisis-hit Russians, Ukrainians boost Sri Lanka’s tourism recovery

ECONOMYNEXT – Foreign visitors from Russia and Ukraine, the two countries now threatening the world of an armed war amid escalated tension, helped Sri Lanka’s post-Covid-19 tourism recovery this year, the official government data showed on Monday (14).

Russians accounted for 18,044 or 15.8 percent of the total 113,670 holiday makers who visited Sri Lanka this year up to February 11, while Ukrainians accounted for 9,883 or 8.7 percent of the total visitors in the same period.

Russia has more than 100,000 troops massed near Ukraine, which is not part of the Atlantic military alliance, and Washington – while keeping open the diplomatic channels that have so far failed to ease the crisis – has repeatedly said an invasion is imminent, Reuters has reported on Monday.

“An analysis of Russian arrivals in the consecutive years reveals that it has almost exceeded the pre
pandemic levels as experienced in January 2019,” the state-run Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority said in its January monthly report.

“This could be likely due to increased interest by Russian tour operators in alternative destinations to
Thailand and Goa with strict public health measures in place and the launching of direct flights to
Russia.”

The country saw an increase of Ukrainian and Russian travelers after a tourism revival projected
targeting those countries was launched in late 2020 by former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia
Udayanga Weeratunga.

Sri Lanka started direct flights between Sri Lanka and Russia from November last year following an agreement between Russia’s Aeroflot airline and Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation authority.

The island nation, populour for its shallow beaches and diverse nature attracted 12.3 percent of the offshore visitors from both Russia and Ukraine in 2021 when it saw only a total of 194,495 tourists visited the country.

The SLTDA has targeted at least 1.1 million arrivals this year with a targeted average of
90,000 tourists per month.

Sri Lanka’s revenue from tourism hit 110.7 million US dollars in January this year compared to 2.3 million US dollars a year ago mainly due to lockdown in 2021.

The SLTDA has aimed to promote Sri Lanka as a destination for foreign weddings, meeting, nd conferences to boost the number of tourists in the country.  (Colombo/Feb14/2022)

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Former Sri Lanka minister Mervyn Silva arrested 15 years after he stormed state TV

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Criminal Investigation Department has arrested former minister Mervyn Silva for storming the headquarters of the state-owned national television network Rupavahini Corporation in 2007.

Police said Silva was arrested at his residence in Pelawatte, Colombo, on Thursday August 18.

The arrest was made following a directive by the Attorney General, police said.

The incident occurred in the first term of then President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Silva, who was labour minister at the time, stormed the Rupavhini premises allegedly over a news story that had earned his wrath.

The minister came under attack by irate Rupavahini employees who nearly beat him into submission, forcing him to make a quick escape with his bodyguards.

Incidentally, Silva’s arrest 15 years later, followed the arrest of a protestor who also stormed the Rupavahini headquarters and allegedly forced employees to air programming that was approved by Sri Lanka’s anti-government protestors. (Colombo/Aug18/2022)

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Sri Lanka shares edge up in mid-day trade

Sri Lanka stocks reversed its falling trend and gained for the first time in six sessions on Tuesday closed stronger on Tuesday (21).

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka shares moved up within the first hour of trade on Thursday (18) however the market was highly volatile.

The main All Share Price Index gained 0.36 percent or 31.70 points to 8,939.05 at 1130 hours.

Most liquid index up 0.59 percent or 17.40 points to 2,964.40.

Market generated a turnover 1.6 billion rupees.

Top gainers LOLC, Sri Lanka Telecom and Lanka IOC. (Colombo/Aug18/2022)

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Sri Lanka debt can be made sustainable without re-structuring domestic borrowings: CB Governor

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is confident of reaching debt sustainability without re-structuring domestic debt which will lead to problems in the banking sector, Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said.

“There has been no request to restructure domestic debt,” Governor Weerasinghe told reporters in Colombo.

“We are confident that we can make debt sustainable without restructuring debt.”

There have been concerns among domestic bond investors that rupee debt will be re-structured following comments made by President Ranil Wickremesinghe that financial advisors were ‘looking at’ domestic debt.

“The government position is that we will re-structure external debt,” Governor Weerasinghe said.

Sri Lanka was experiencing a balance of payments crisis and needed time to pay external creditors, he said.

“Restructuring domestic debt will affect bank and that will not help the economic recovery,” Governor Weerasinghe said.

“The economy will recover faster and external creditors will be able to recover their debt faster.
“We want to minimise the impact on the domestic banking system.”

A stable banking system will help foreign lender recover their money faster by helping the economy recover quickly, he said.

Sri Lanka’s rupee bond holders including the Employees Provident Fund as well as bank depositors have taken a steep ‘hair cut’ in terms of the steeply depreciate rupee and high inflation around 60 percent, which will automatically boost rupee revenues when the economy recovers.

Sri Lanka is expecting an International Monetary Fund team towards the end of the month and hopes to finalize a staff level agreement, he said.

It will then be used as a basis to approach creditors and seek relief. (Colombo/Aug18/2022)

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