ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will likely meet its tourism target of 105,000 arrivals for January having already recorded 47,358 tourist arrivals as at January 15 and is hopeful of meeting an end-of-year revenue target of 2.8 billion US dollars from an anticipated 1.55 million arrivals, an official said.
Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Chairman Priyantha Fernando told reporters on Tuesday January 17 that tourist arrivals for 2022 was at a satisfactory 719,978, which marked a 270-percent increase from the 194,495 tourists who travelled to Sri Lanka in 2021.
Tourism Minister Harin Fernando, who spoke at the same press conference, went as far as to declare that irrespective of what happens with Sri Lanka’s widely anticipated International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout, the crisis-hit island nation could look to tourism to boost its economy in the new year.
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.
The SLTDA chairman said tourism revenue in 2022 was 1.2 billion US dollars.
“This year, we anticipate 1.55 million tourist arrivals and so far in the first 15 days of January, we have already recorded 47,358 arrivals,” he said, expressing cautious optimism that the 105,000 target for January will “most likely” be met.
SLTDA is also hopeful that 2.8 billion dollars in revenue will be generated by the end of 2022 from the anticipated 1.55 tourists.
In December, Sri Lanka was also watching the progressive dismantling of China’s coronavirus controls and the planned re-opening of the country’s tourism sector. This is despite some countries taking measures to subject Chinese arrivals to COVID-19 testing after a fresh outbreak of the virus in China.
“China will resume outbound tourism for Chinese citizens in an orderly fashion, starting with a pilot scheme,” the country’s embassy in Colombo tweeted in December.
“In 2019, the number of outbound tourists from China reached nearly 155 million.”
In 2019 Sri Lanka welcomed 167,863 tourists from China making it the third largest generating market.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka is also planning to boost domestic tourism to all provinces in 2023 with nine ‘long weekends’ giving opportunities holidaymakers to travel around the island.