ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals fell 57 percent in June 2019 from a year earlier, following the Easter Sunday attack, the tourism regulator said, recovering from a 70.8 percent fall in May.
The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority said 63,072 tourists arrived in the island in June, from 146,828 a year earlier.
Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau Chairman Kishu Gomes had said in early June that arrivals had recovered to around 2,000 tourists a day. Towards the end of the month, arrivals had recovered further to 2,500 a day, he had said.
This was compared to around 1,200 arrivals a day in May.
Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera was quoted in reports as saying that the recovery was accelerating faster than expected.
Hotel and travel stocks gained on Wednesday, as the exuberance from expectations of a faster recovery hit the market, stockbrokers said.
Initial estimates had placed the tourism sector recovering over a period of 12-13 months, similar to other terror-stricken destinations over the past decade.
The thirty seven countries which imposed travel bans on Sri Lanka immediately after the attack in April relaxed their warnings, starting from end-May.
In June the highest number of tourists (15,048) came from India which was down 54.4 percent from a year earlier.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited Sri Lanka in June, giving an impetus to tourism from Sri Lanka’s neighbour and largest market.
State-led promotional tour packages were also sold in India starting in June.
The second largest market was Australia, where several media houses gave Sri Lanka tourism positive publicity.
Arrivals from Australia fell 55.9 percent to 4,410 holidaymakers.
Australia became one of Sri Lanka’s top 10 markets in 2018 after a direct flight was begun, and had remained around the 7-10th largest market until the April bombings.
The UK, where Sri Lanka had begun a digital marketing campaign, was the third largest, with arrivals falling 63.9 percent to 4,365 tourists.
The steepest fall in arrivals (82.9 percent) came from China with 3,496 tourists, and was the fourth largest market, compared to being in the top three in the past.
The Maldives was the fifth largest source market, with arrivals down 37.5 percent to 3,350 holidaymakers, followed by Germany, from where arrivals fell 42.8 percent to 3,312.
Saudi Arabia entered into the last spot of the top 10 markets with 1,500 tourists (down 72.3 percent) as tourism from the Middle Eastern nation picks up following the holy Ramadan period, which too ended in June in 2018.
The tourism and hospitality industries are facing one of the worst crises in history, as the situation had not been as dire even during a 30-year long civil war.
Hotels and related industries were given moratoriums on loan repayments and tax cuts as occupancies fell to less than 10 percent in May.
Thousands of hotel staff, especially interns, temporary staff and contract workers were let go, as properties struggled to fill rooms.
The state is now looking to fast-track promotional campaigns to further speed up recovery. (Colombo/Jul03/2019)