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Thursday May 23rd, 2024

Sri Lanka hoteliers hopeful of better tourism season ahead as arrivals rise 

CLOSED DOORS: Tourist stand outside the closed Dehiwala Zoo, in Colombo on March 15, 2020, following the authorities announcement to close it for two weeks as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s hoteliers expect for a better tourism season in coming months with an anticipation of rising arrivals from India and China as the island nation has seen a gradual increase in the number of foreign visitors into the country.

The island populour for its nature and beaches saw over 100,000 tourists for the second month in February after the monthly arrivals fell to pandemic level in September last year amid a political crisis following the Colombo government declared sovereign debt default in April last year.

Hoteliers see an improved arrival though the occupancy rate in registered hotels has been steady.

“There is a slight increase in the tourist arrivals, but the occupancy in the hotels remains almost the same in the formal sector. But there is a little bit of increase in the informal sector,” M. Shanthikumar, President of the Hotels Association of Sri Lanka told EconomyNext.

Sri Lanka has aimed for a moderate 1.55 million tourist arrivals with a $2.8 billion revenue this year after the government failed to achieve its repeatedly revised down targets last year due to the economic crisis-led shortages of essential items.

Sri Lanka aimed 2.3 million tourists last year with an ambitious $4.5 billion revenue. However, the island nation’s third foreign exchange earner after remittances and garment exports earned $1.14 billion revenue with 719,978 tourist arrivals.

The year 2022 was marked by a debilitating currency crisis, high inflation, daily power outages and lengthy queues for fuel and cooking gas amid three straight months of street protests and political unrest.

Tourism took a massive hit from the crisis but improved towards the fourth quarter and, by December, had recorded a significant increase from the previous year’s numbers which were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Now that China has opened their borders, we can look forward to additional arrivals, we have to wait and see how the connectivity of the airlines is. We also launched a digital Market app in India that might bring a lot of Indians into the island,” Shanthikumar said.

“Compared to what it was, it looks positive and the bookings increase in a small percentage, so we do expect a lot of arrivals in the coming months.”

Officials from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority said that tourists from Western European countries have gradually increased while Russia is accounting for nearly a quarter of monthly arrivals.

“We are targeting the high end and when you target the high end, others will also be there because we have a room capacity of almost 50,000,” Priantha Fernando, the chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority told EconomyNext. (Colombo/March 04/2023)

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Sri Lanka plans to expand Bingiriya export zone to 1,100 acres

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is expanding an export processing zone in Bingiriya in Kurunegala and plans to link the area with Puttalam with roads and other infrastructure, Minister Bandula Gunawardana said.

A task force of ministerial secretaries will be appointed to carry out the tasks speedily, following a cabinet paper submitted by President Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

The Bingiriya zone already has 157 acres and another 282 acres is being developed by the Board of Investment, he said.

Steps would also be taken to acquire 666 acres.

There was no information whose lands would be acquired. (Colombo/May23/2024)

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Sri Lanka has power breakdowns amidst extreme weather

ECONOMYNEXT – The state-owned power utility, the Ceylon Electricity Board has reported over 36,900 breakdowns resulting in power interruptions to more than 300,000 consumers in the last three days due to inclement weather in the island, the power minister said.

“Additional service staff has been assigned to attend the breakdowns and the CEB management & service staff are working 24 hours to restore power to the affected consumers,” Minister of Power and Energy, Kanchana Wijesekera said on social media platform X (twitter).

Wijesekera said consumers could report power interruptions through the CEB hotline 1987, via SMS to 1987 with BD and the electricity consumer number to follow, or use the CEB Care app, or through http://cebcare.ceb.lk.

The South-East monsoon has seen floods, landslides and strong winds do damage to the utility provider’s infrastructure in the last week. (Colombo/May23?2024)

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Sri Lanka President calls for unity, sacrificing for a better tomorrow on Vesak day

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe has recalled a sermon from the Buddha about sacrificing for a better tomorrow, and called for unity to heal and rebuild the country, as Buddhists celebrate Vesak.

Buddhists celebrate Vesak as commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing away of the Buddha.

“At this challenging moment, we as a nation should cultivate the same great zeal for enlightenment that Buddha exemplified, inspired by his sermon, “Maththasukha parichchaga- passé che vipulan sukhan” – to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow,” President Wickremesinghe said in his Vesak day message.

“We must remember the advice of Lord Buddha, “Sabbattha Sammanaso,” to treat everyone equally and ensure we put it into practice as a country. This is the greatest offering we can present to the Buddha on this Vesak day.

“Regardless of race, religion, caste, or political affiliation, we must all unite to heal and rebuild our country. ”

The full statement is reproduced below:

The Vesak festival is a profoundly sacred day for Buddhists worldwide, commemorating the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and passing. Buddhists in Sri Lanka, along with their brethren around the globe, celebrate Vesak with deep devotion. They spend this period engaging in religious observances and venerating the Buddha with fervent devotion.

At this challenging moment, we as a nation should cultivate the same great zeal for enlightenment that Buddha exemplified, inspired by his sermon, “Maththasukha parichchaga- passé che vipulan sukhan” – to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow.

We must remember the advice of Lord Buddha, “Sabbattha Sammanaso,” to treat everyone equally and ensure we put it into practice as a country. This is the greatest offering we can present to the Buddha on this Vesak day. Regardless of race, religion, caste, or political affiliation, we must all unite to heal and rebuild our country. The principles of Lichchavi Raja Dharmaya will guide us in this endeavour.

Let us keep in mind that the primary aim of the Vesak festival is to foster spiritual growth and character development in a world rapidly advancing physically. I wish everyone a blessed Vesak festival.

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