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New travel trends seen posing risks for Sri Lankan tourism investments

ECONOMYNEXT – Almost half the tourists visiting Sri Lanka stay in small tourist establishments, posing challenges for the industry struggling to improve profitability as capacity grows, a top official said.
 “One industry that makes a country brand modern happens to be tourism,” said Rohantha Athukorala, chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau.
‘Brand Sri Lanka’ is now estimated to be worth 69 billion US dollars and might touch 80 billion dollars this year, he told a news conference.

Tourist arrivals are growing strongly and has crossed the 1.3 million mark in September.

“Almost 49 percent of arrivals go to the uncontrolled sector – the small and medium enterprises,” Athukorala said.

“Online booking engines have 4,300 establishments. In contrast to the previous practice of package tours, travellers now book online.”

This creates challenges for the industry in terms of quality control, security and delivering the brand promise, Athokorala said.

It poses challenges for high-end tourist hotels, the number of which are increasing with the recent spurt in investment into the sector.

“We need to draw the 250 dollar quality tourist,” Athukorala said. “That will ensure 9-10 percent return on investment on a property and will make people come and invest in this country.” (Colombo/October 06 2015)

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