ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s central bank said that peak winter season bookings at Sri Lankan hotels are picking up, after the initial setback due to the Easter Sunday terror attack.
"I was speaking to Tourism Ministry officials, and they said that bookings for the winter season are not bad at all," Governor Coomaraswamy said.
"They [bookings] are picking up, but of course, at discounted rates," he said.
Coomaraswamy said he had also spoken to a large hotel chain, which had attested to a fast recovery.
"There seems to be signs that the recovery may be going faster than expected and the factor there is the removal of the travel advisories," he said.
Initial expectation were for the industry to recover in 12-13 months, based on experiences of other terror-hit destinations globally.
Most countries had removed their travel advisories fast to help accelerate Sri Lanka’s recovery, Coomaraswamy said
However, revenue of hotel firms are likely to remain lower than usual due to discounts, he said.
Regional hotel associations which spoke to EconomyNext said that highly discount rates could be expected to remain for at least one year, especially for locals during off-peak seasons.
In May, immediately after the bombings, occupancy rates at hotels nationally had fallen to around 10 percent, while arrivals had fallen 71 percent.
The attacks had hit just as an off-peak season from April to October was starting, when occupancies at hotels fall to around 65-70 percent, compared to the peak season 70-80 percent.
There was some recovery seen in June, when the arrivals fall was 57 percent. Further recovery was seen in the first week of July, when the fall was 54 percent.
The Jetwing Group, one of Sri Lanka’s largest hotel chains, said that its occupancy rates for July and August are expected to reach 50-60 percent, augmented with deals for local tourists.
Hotels, tourism and related industries are being given a debt moratorium and working capital loans to help manage through the crisis.