ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s pandemic-hit tourism industry is confident of a strong resurgence and a 500 million US dollar revenue for the financial year ending in March 2022 with at least 50,000 arrivals per month, industry representatives said.
“What we have observed in other destinations is that the fewer the controls, the higher the arrivals,” President of the Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) Sanath Ukwatte told EconomyNext on Thursday (30).
“However, even before this new relaxation and the UK’s announcement on moving Sri Lanka out of the red list, our arrivals were increasing. We are quite confident that in this financial year (ending March 2022), we will be able to earn at least 500 million dollars or a little bit more than that,” he said.
The Indian Ocean island nation’s health ministry on Tuesday announced that it will relax COVID-19 restrictions for arrivals with no on-arrival PCR tests needed for fully vaccinated inbound travellers with a negative PCR report obtained within 72 hours before arrival.
Before the relaxation, PCR tests soon after arrival were mandatory at a cost of about 40 US dollars, with a one-day quarantine until the reports were cleared.
Sri Lanka’s peak winter travel season is from October till March.
“Winter travel is the peak [tourism] season for Sri Lanka. We are expecting a good growth of tourism traffic from October-November,” Ukwatte said, adding that the industry is expecting arrivals anywhere between 50,000 to 70,000 per month from October.
Revenue from tourism plummeted to the ground because the country’s borders were closed since mid last year.
Sri Lanka saw 6.8 million US dollars of tourism revenue in August compared to zero in the same month last year. The industry saw 32.8 million US dollars of revenue in the first eight months of this year compared to 681.9 million in the same period last year.
The island, popular for its diverse nature and golden sandy beaches, saw its peak tourism revenue of 4.38 billion US dollar in 2018 before falling to 3.59 billion US dollars in the next year due to the Easter Sunday attack.
Sri Lanka’s arrivals have gradually picked up from only 100 arrivals per day since the country initially opened for Ukrainian tourists under a bio-bubble concept in December last year. The authorities also allowed Indian tourists from late August.
“Now that they can travel to Sri Lanka, we expect a good pickup and also there are inquiries coming in daily on accommodation availability for them to travel in the latter part of this year and early next year,” Ukwatte said.
“Most hotels have been shut down or are operating partially, so we have lost a lot of business
and are on survival mode. Now things are changing, we need to reopen the hotels.
“Reopening a hotel is not an easy task. We have to refurbish the hotels. We have to get some working capital to do that, but the government too is not in a position. We understand that.” (Colombo/Sept30/2021)