ECONOMYNEXT – Russian travellers are leading Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals in the 2022 winter season as the Indian Ocean island undergoing the worst currency crisis in the history of its soft-pegged central bank.
From November 1-24, Sri Lanka has welcomed 45,560 tourists led by 11,041 Russian holiday makers, followed by 8,075 Indians and 3,569 British.
“The bulk is coming from Russia and its going to down south – Ahangama, Weligama, up to Matara, Tangalle, Unawatuna. That area is packed,” Priyantha Fernando, Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority said.
“It’s the middle market family crowd and youngsters we are getting – not backpackers or high end but definitely bookings from Russia are very good.”
Sri Lanka was hopeful to attract travelers from the European and the American market for the winter season especially long-haul holiday-makers.
But European markets are going through an energy crisis and high inflation, after the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank printed money.
“Europeans have their own issues right now,” Fernando said. “Also we had an issue in the German market with a recent travel warning which being sorted at the moment.”
Decembers and January looks better, he said.
“The numbers are still low as Sri Lanka’s key winter-season European market is going through it’s own financial crisis,” M Shantikumar, President of Sri Lanka’s Hoteliers Association said.
Officials are hopeful Sri Lanka will end the month around 55,000 tourists, while December might see a 10-20 increase in arrivals.
Shanthikumar says the country needs to focus on direct consumer marketing as most are still not aware that the issues in island have been sorted.
Sri Lanka has received 613,818 tourist so far this year. Sri Lanka was targeting 800,000 tourists for the full year.
Indians remain the top holiday makers in Sri Lanka with a total of 103,562 visiting the island up to November 24.
“With the Winter season currently on, we have our regular winter scheduled flights such as Aeroflot, Azur Air, Edelweiss, Swiss Air, Jazeera, Air France adding to the regular schedules,” Shehan Sumanasekera, Director of All Airport, Sri Lanka Airport and Aviation Services said.
“Which means the tourist arrivals during the month from November to April will see a rapid increase.
“None of these airline are first times, most started last year. This shows that the airlines believe in the Sri Lankan market.” (Colombo/Nov27/2022)