An Echelon Media Company
Tuesday May 30th, 2023

Sri Lanka sees tourism upturn from last minute bookings

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is seeing a tourism upturn mostly from last minute bookings and forward bookings are just starting to pick up, industry officials said as the worst currency crisis triggered by the country’s intermediate regime central bank wanes.

Sri Lanka’s rupee collapsed in 2022 after two years of money printing to target an artificially low interest rates, triggering sovereign default, fuel and power shortages, social unrest and political instability, and dealing a blow to tourism.

Returning stability was too late for solid winter season bookings.

“The summer inquiries are coming up,” Salini Deerasooriya, Senior manager of Sales and Marketing, at The Argyle, an upmarket hotel in Hatton, Sri Lanka said

“After the crisis, there is a pick up around 45 pct – 50 pct and the inquiries are all last-minute bookings. It is not like those days.

“The trend has changed even though we can’t find a proper forecast for next month or the month after.”

Sri Lanka welcomed 194,506 tourists in December 2022 and January 2023, compared to 470,097 in December 2019 and January 2020, before the economic crisis and Coronavirus pandemic.

In the first 12 days of March 2023, Sri Lanka has welcomed 76,247 tourists.

Priantha Fernando, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) said China will start picking up by next month.

“But the numbers are increasing as you can see from Europe, the percentage-wise they are contributing,” he said.

Sri Lanka got 67,855 passengers from Europe in January, and 72,957 in February.

Hoteliers say there is a drop in high end travellers.

“Even though the statics are there we see a drop in arrivals for our properties especially the high end ones,” Nadeera Fernando, Head of Sales at W15 Collection,

“Our arrivals from inbound travellers (high end travellers) has been less compared to last year,”

M. Shanthikumar, President of the Hotel Association of Sri Lanka says there is a slight increase in forward bookings.

“So we have to wait and see the materialisation depending on the country’s situation,” he said. “But as an industry we are positive that the tourist arrival will increase.”

Russia, India, Germany, UK and Israel had generated traffic, hoteliers said.

“Destination Management Companies (DMC) as per their feedback is trying to operate a few charter flights” Araliya, Cluster Director General Manager, Ruwan Kalugala said. (Colombo/March 24/2023)

Comments (1)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Dr P Thilakawardhana says:

    I sincerely hope we see light at the end of the tunnel

View all comments (1)

Comments (1)

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Dr P Thilakawardhana says:

    I sincerely hope we see light at the end of the tunnel

Sri Lanka food producers on countdown; 6-months to reduce trans fat content

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan food manufacturers only have another six months to reduce the amount of trans fat in food items as the government plans to ban high trans-fat food from January 2024 onwards, an official said.

“A six-month grace period has been given to existing manufacturers, sellers and distributors whose products contain trans-fat,” an official of the Ministry of Health told EconomyNext requesting anonymity.

According to a Ministry of Health gazette issued on… a person shall not sell, offer for sale, expose or keep for sale or advertise for sale, any packaged food product containing trans-fat unless the total amount of trans-fat of such food product per 100 grams or 100 milliliters of the food product is declared on the label of such packaged food product.

However, these regulations will not be applicable for export oriented food products.

Trans-fat is a type of fat that has certain chemical properties and is usually found in processed foods such as baked goods, snack foods, fried foods, shortening, margarine, and certain vegetable oils.

Eating trans-fat increases blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has praised Sri Lanka for enacting a legislation on trans-fat to protect health and prevent premature deaths from coronary heart disease, a statement from the WHO said.

“Eliminating trans-fats from food supplies is a cost-effective measure with enormous health benefits,” the statement quoting Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia said.

“By enacting legislation on trans-fat, Sri Lanka has once again demonstrated its resolve to protect and promote the health of its people”.

The regulations are coming into effect as Sri Lanka is struggling with food insecurity as the country recovers from its worst economic crisis.

However, an improvement in food security across all provinces has been recorded, according to an assessment by a Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) of two UN agencies. (Colombo/ May 30/2023)

Continue Reading

India extends under utilized $1 bln credit facility to Sri Lanka by one year 

ECONOMYNEXT – India has extended a $1 billion credit facility to Sri Lanka by another year after the loan that was given to help the crisis-hit island nation to continue import of essentials was not fully utilized in the 12 month period originally agreed, officials said.

Sri Lanka faced with a looming sovereign default signed the credit facility in March 2022 for one year through March 2024. However, the full $1 billion had not been utilized yet.

The Facility has been used for urgent procurement of fuel, medicines, food items and industrial raw materials, as per the requirements and priorities of Sri Lanka.

“The initial agreement was signed in 2022 March and out of the 1000 million US dollars allocated materials were imported for $576.75 mil,” Shehan Semasinghe, State Finance Minister said in his official twitter platform.

“The agreement is extended for the remaining $423.25 mil. We will prioritize the import of essential medicines till March 2024.”

Indian High Commission in Colombo said the State Bank of India (SBI) has extended the tenure of the $1 billion Credit Facility provided to Sri Lanka in response to a request from the Government of Sri Lanka.  (Colombo/May 30/2023)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka President cleared to discuss cancelled LRT after soured Japan relations

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Cabinet of Ministers approved a proposal by President Ranil Wickremesinghe discuss resuming a Japan funded. Light Rail Transit (LRT) project cabinet spokesman said, as the island nation is in the process of mending ties with Tokyo.

However, any such deals are likely to take place after the debt restructuring and Sri Lanka starts to repay its foreign loans to come out of default, analysts say.

Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa unilaterally cancelled the 1.5 billion US dollar LRT and East Container Terminal (ECT) projects in 2021. Japan agreed to fund the LRT project while it was one of the tripartite members of the ECT project along with India and Sri Lanka.

The abrupt cancellation hit the diplomatic ties between the two countries and Sri Lankan government officials have said Japan had given the project to Sri Lanka at a very lower financing cost.

President Wickremesinghe returned from Japan late last week after having met top officials of the Japanese government including its prime minister.

“In recent history, due to the stopping of several agreements and proposals suddenly, President Wickremesinghe went to Japan after creating the background to clear some of the worries we have,” Cabinet Spokesman Bandula Gunawardena told the weekly media briefing.

“Before he went, he got the approval from the cabinet to resume the discussion on the light railway project. He got the approval from the cabinet to get parliament approval for bilateral agreements signed or any other investments project. Any change or cancellation of a project could be done only with the approval of the parliament.”

Japan has backed Sri Lanka under Wickremesinghe’s presidency after the island nation declared sovereign debt default. (Colombo/May 30/2023)

Continue Reading