Sri Lanka tourist arrivals plunge 70-pct in May

ECONOMYNEXT – Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka plunged 70 percent in May from a year ago after Easter Sunday’s suicide bombings but promotions and events are underway to restore the island’s image as a destination, an official said.

Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Board (SLTPB) chairman Kishu Gomes said that with security being tightened to ensure safety for visitors the number of arrivals is expected to revive.

“Seven travel advisories have been softened,” he told a news conference held to announce the Colombo International Logistics Conference 2019 in August, billed as a forum to promote the island’s attractions as an international logistics hub.

Gomes said the logistics conference, on August 1 and 2, where about 100 foreign delegates and families are expected, would be one of several events planned in the island that would help restore its image as a popular travel destination.

There was an exodus of tourists after the April suicide attacks on churches and hotels by Islamist extremists that killed over 250 people, including foreigners, resulting in a sharp drop in hotel occupancy and affecting other sectors like food suppliers.

Gomes said arrivals fell 70 percent to 37,000 in May 2019 from a year ago.

The months of April, May and June as well as September and October are considered as Sri Lanka’s off-peak tourist season when arrivals usually fall.

Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka fell 7.5 percent to 166,975 in April this year from a year ago after the Easter Sunday bombings.

Gomes said the authorities were working to revive visits with the effort being helped by softening of travel advisories by key origin markets like Germany, India, China, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and Italy.

He said there were large numbers still coming to Sri Lanka from countries which had issued travel warnings like the United Kingdom and United States as well as countries which had not issued travel advisories like the Maldives and East Asian nations.

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The government will spend over 900 million rupees till the year end to promote the island as a travel destination, he said.
(COLOMBO, 04 June 2019)
 

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