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Tuesday June 18th, 2024

Sri Lanka to hike tourist arrival target to 2.0mn for 2023

Ukrainian Tourists arriving in Sri Lanka

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will raise its tourist arrival target to 2.0 million in 2023 from an earlier 1.5 million on the back of better trends seen in the first quarter, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Chairman Priantha Fernando said.

“Based on the arrivals last year we set a target of 1.5 million tourists about six months ago. But with this we will be revising it to 2 million,” Fernando said Friday.

“The target for March 2023 was only 90,000, but we have exceeded that.

“For the month of March 01-28, we have welcomed 112,991 tourists, and this is the first time since 2019 that we have welcomed more than 100,000 tourists for the third consecutive month.”

In March the average daily arrivals were around 4,000.

Sri Lanka has welcomed 323,185 tourists by March 28, which may go up to 335,000 by the end of the first quarter. In that year Sri Lanka welcomed 1.9 million tourists, down from 1.3 million in 2018.

Sri Lanka’s central bank which usually trigger forex shortages with inflationary open market operations to target 5 percent inflation while collecting forex reserves, went overboard in 2020-2022 and triggered the worst currency crisis in its history, resulting in fuel shortages and social unrest.

Tourist arrivals which had picked up to 105,000 in March 2022, then plunged.

Forex shortages and also made it difficult to import aviation fuel and ticket prices also rose in US dollar terms. With the external sector stabilizing, air ticket premiums – which rose in US dollar terms – have started to ease and gradually flights are increasing.

Sri Lanka is expecting more tourists from India and is promoting the island in chosen generating markets.

China, which closed during Covid has re-opened.

From April onwards, state-run Sri Lankan Airline will be starting nine flights to China per week, while Chinese airlines will operate three flights per week, resulting in a boost in Chinese tourists to the country, Fernando said.

Also read: Sri Lanka to target nine markets in focused tourism campaigns

“And also in April, the Promotion Bureau will start promotions in China, which will open the market even more,” Fernando added.

“We have started discussing with the Foreign Ministry to start a direct flight from Israel, and we believe that with the increasing demand, we can get more new flight operators to the country.”

Currently, 20 percent of the tourists are from Russia, followed by India, the UK, and Germany.
Markets like Germany is still affected by negative perceptions, according to officials. (Colombo/Apr03/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Chamber links up with Gujarat Chamber

ECONOMYNEXT – The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has signed an agreement with the Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SGCCI) to increase trade cooperation between India and Sri Lanka.

The MOU was signed by CCC CEO Buwanekabahu Perera, SGCCI President Ramesh Vaghasia, in the presence of Dr Valsan Vethody, Consul General for Sri Lanka in Mumbai, India.

“With the signing of the MoU, … the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and SGCCI aim to facilitate trade between the two countries via initiatives such as trade fairs and delegations, business networking events, training programmes,” the Ceylon Chamber said in a statement.

“This partnership will open doors for Sri Lankan businesses to explore opportunities in Surat’s dynamic market and enable the sharing of expertise and resources between the two regions.”

Established in 1940, SGCCI engages with over 12,000 members and indirect ties with more than 2,00,000 members via 150 associations. It promotes trade, commerce, and industry in South Gujarat.

The region’s commercial and economic centre Surat has risen to prominence as the global epicenter for diamond cutting and as India’s textile hub, and is ranked the world’s 4th fastest growing city with a GDP growth rate of 11.5%

Surat’s economic landscape is vibrant and diverse. As India’s 8th largest and Gujarat’s 2nd largest city, it boasts the highest average annual household income in the country.

The nearby Hazira Industrial Area hosts major corporations like Reliance, ESSAR, SHELL, and L&T. (Colombo/Jun18/2024)

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Sri Lanka telecommunications bill some clauses ruled unconstitutional by SC: Speaker

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has found a number of clauses in a proposed amendment to the Telecom Telecommunications Amendment bill unconstitutional, speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana said.

“Clause No 8, proposed section 9A 2 of the bill is inconsistent with Article 12 1 of the constitution, however this inconsistency shall cease if word ‘may’ will be replaced with word ‘shall’ as set out in the determination of the supreme court.”

“Clause No 9 is inconsistent with Article 12 1 of the constitution and only can be passed with special majority required under paragraph 2 of the Article 84. However, the inconsistency shall cease if clause is amended as set out in the determination of the supreme court.

Clause No 12, proposed section 17 10 of the bill is inconsistent with Article 12 1 of the constitution and can only be passed with special parliament majority required under Article 84 paragraph 2. However, the inconsistency shall cease if clause is amended as set out in the determination of the supreme court.”

Sections of clauses 13, 18, 20, 33 and 35 were also in violation of the constitution, and could only be passed by a special majority of parliament. (Colombo/Jun18/2024)

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Sri Lanka to exempt one house from imputed rent wealth tax: President

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will exempt one house from a proposed wealth tax outlined in an International Monetary Fund program, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

About 90 percent of the people’s houses are likely to be exempt from the proposed tax, he said.

“[O]ne house will be exempt from this,” President Wickremesinghe told parliament Monday.

“It is going to have a very high threshold and I do not think the vast majority of the people in this country should even be worried about their house

“Don’t worry your house will be safe.”

The IMF program document however did not mention an exemption on one house, but did mention an exemption threshold.

Taxing houses and thrift in general could have detrimental effects on people’s well-being, housing stock and their willingness to remain in the country without migrating, critics say.

Related Sri Lanka to tax imaginary rents on houses under IMF deal

The mechanism of imputed rents was used because rates on houses were assigned to provincial councils and courts could strike it down.

Opposition legislator Harsha de Silva said the Samagi Jana Balwegaya welcomed President Wickremesinghe’s statement. (Colombo/June18/2024)

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