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Thursday March 23rd, 2023

Sri Lanka targeting European travellers hit by gas prices, tourism minister tells Quest

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is looking to attract European tourists affected by rising gas prices in that region in the coming winter season, Tourism Minister Harin Fernando told CNN’s Richard Quest in an interview.

Speaking on CNN’s Quest Means Business programme Tuesday November 08 evening, Fernando said Sri Lanka has short and long term plans to revive the island nation’s crisis-hit tourism sector.

“The short term is jumping into India and getting all the Indians to come in to Sri Lanka… because there’s a massive middle class in India: ver 230 million travellers,

“We’ve got a lot of brands. MasterCard, etc, promoting Sri Lanka for the Indian market as well as the Bangladesh market,” he said.

The long term plan, said Fernando, is to target potential European tourists in the winter season as the continent goes through an energy crisis.

“We’re looking at Europe as, come winter, gas prices are going to be so high, it would be cheaper to come to Sri Lnaka and have a nice holiday and enjoy luxury on the beach and also work from home,” said Fernando.

Quest, who was in Sri Lanka in 2019, told Fernando that he will be back in the island soon for the CNN Business Traveller programme.

Tourism in Sri Lanka, one of the country’s biggest foreign exchange earners, has been devastated by multiple crises since 2019, from the Easter Sunday bombings and the pandemic to the prevailing currency crisis and the political turmoil it created.

The industry is slowly recovering, however, though hoteliers — particularly SMEs — have been hit hard. Fuel shortages, power cuts and a host of other issues have also been pointed out by sceptics as reasons for tourists to steer clear of Sri Lanka. The government, however, argues that many of these problems have been resolved or are in the process of being resolved with a slow but steady return to stability.

India, meanwhile, reamins the largest market for Sri Lanka’s tourism earrings. The highest tourist arrival of over 86,000 was from India in the first nine months of this year. That accounts for 16.5 percent of the total arrivals to Sri Lanka. The United Kingdom, Russia, Germany and France are followed by India respectively making the top five primary markets for Sri Lanka.


Sri Lanka banks on India to boost tourism this year after “bad press”.

In October, Sri Lanka revised tourist arrival expectations for 2022 to 800,000.


Sri Lanka revises down 2022 tourism target to 800,000


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Sri Lanka establishes committee to investigate aircraft incidents

An aircraft lands at the Jaffna International Airport, which was opened in October 2019 and promises to push the tourism frontiers in Jaffna.

ECONOMYNEXT: Sri Lanka’s has established an expert committee under the state-run Civil Aviation Authority to investigate aircraft accidents and to implement precautionary methods in the Sri Lankan airspace, an Official said.

“Even if it is only one flight, there is a chance an accident may occur,” Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka, Director General, P. A. Jayakantha said.

“This particular committee is there to investigate aircraft accidents and act as a mechanism to take over if something goes wrong”.

Sri Lanka has encountered around 2,700 minor aircraft accidents and incidents mostly on the ground in the 19 years through 2021, the CAA annual reports showed.

The new committee will analyze the past accidents and take precautionary measures while also conducting investigations and provide independent reports in the future, Jayakantha said.

The team is provided with required training and qualifications by the CAA along with an International organization, free of charge.

“Internationally also it is a requirement to have a team to investigate the aircraft accidents,” Jayakantha added.

“For a long time we have not fulfilled this requirement and that is why we established this team with the cabinet approval. Moreover, recently, Sri Lanka’s two aircrafts, one training aircraft and a commercial aircraft met an accident”

The committee will be on active duty, until the Accident Investigation Act is passed and a proper Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation Bureau is established. (Colombo/ Mar23/2023)

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Sri Lanka bond yields steady, Rupee 319/325 at close

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s treasury bond yields closed steady on Thursday while rupee closed weaker, dealers said.

A 01.07.2025 bond closed at 30.60/31.00 percent on Tuesday, down from 30.25/75 percent on Wednesday.

A 15.09.2027 bond closed at 27.80/28.10 percent, steady from 27.90/28.00 percent from Wednesday.

Sri Lanka rupee closed at 319/325 against the US dollar depreciating from 318/320 from a day earlier. (Colombo/ March23/2023)

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Sri Lanka shares dive to two-week low on local debt restructuring fears

ECONOMYNEXT – The Sri Lanka market fell for a fourth session to a two-week low on Thursday, led by financials, as worries over domestic debt restructuring continued after the IMF loan was approved earlier this week resulting in investors adopting a wait-and-see approach until further clarity was provided, analysts said.

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) closed down 1.38 percent or 131.07 points to 9,395.98, lowest since March 02.

Analysts said, majority of the banks have been on slower investment trends on fears of domestic debt restructuring after the IMF approval and waiting for more clarity on the local debt restructuring.

“The market is on muted sentiments despite the IMF loan being approved and is going through a period of consolidation,” Ranjan Ranatunga of First Capital Holdings said.

The market saw a net foreign outflow of 298 million rupees and the total offshore inflows recorded so far in 2023 to 3.3 billion rupees.

The most liquid index, S&P SL20, closed 1.64 percent, or 45.33 points, down at 2,722.94.

The market saw a turnover of 3.4 billion rupees on Thursday, above this year’s daily average of 1.8 billion rupees.

This is the highest turnover generated since March 08, which is when the market was driven off of positive sentiments from International Monetary Fund deal hope after Chinese assurances.

Top contributors to revenue was Agalawatte Plantations, on off board transactions of a stake change, contributing revenue of 1.6 billion rupees, Ranatunga said.

Top contributors to revenue industry wise was Food and Beverage and Telecommunications.

Sri Lanka Telecom has been seeing positive uptrends as the Secretary to the Treasury has informed the Board of Directors of Sri Lanka Telecom PLC (SLT) and Lanka Hospitals PLC that the Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval in principle for the divestment of the stakes held by the Treasury Secretary in the two companies.

Top losers were Sampath Bank, Hatton National Bank and Commercial Bank.

Sri Lanka is looking at options to re-structure domestic debt, or local law local currency debt (LLLC), without harming the banking sector and announce them the International Monetary Fund said in a report.

Banks have been witnessing profit taking and selling pressures after continuous uptrends prior to the IMF loan had been approved.

Analysts said, selling pressures is expected to ease as the IMF hopes to reduce inflationary pressures which will in turn lead to reductions in interest rates. (Colombo/Mar23/2023)

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