Sri Lanka tourist arrivals up 10.3-pct in 2018, earnings down

ECONOMYNEXT – Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka grew 10.3 percent from a year earlier to 2.3 million visitors in 2018, missing an annual target of 2.5 million amid a constitutional crisis, the country’s tourism minister said.

"Although the tourist arrivals for the year 2018 fell slightly short due to the political instability we saw post 26th October, I think in terms of earnings we have reached the 3.5 billion dollar target, Minister of Tourism Development, John Amaratunga said.

The earnings were down 10.3 percent from 3.9 billion dollars in 2017 based on provisional data. Earnings are calculated according to a survey.

Amaratunga said that the earnings in 2018 may even have been higher than 3.5 billion dollars, as the data is provisional, and approximations.

Some hoteliers had said that bookings in November were not much affected except for business travelles but forward bookings for 2019 had slowed as a result of a constitutional crisis triggered by President Maithripala Sirisena and ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Smaller hoteliers had complained of cancellations in December.

Amaratunga said Sri Lanka is expecting 4 million tourists to generate an income of over 5 billion dollars in 2019, with Lonely Planet ranking Sri Lanka as the number one destination to travel in 2019 helping arrivals.

A number of promotional programs started in 2018 ending a dry spell, while a new country brand named ‘So Sri Lanka’ was also launched.

India, China, the United Kingdom, and Germany were the top source markets for Sri Lanka in 2018 according to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.

In 2018, total arrivals grew 10.3 percent, accelerating from 2.3 percent in 2017, ending a trend of diminishing growth.





After peaking in at 46 percent in 2010, from a low base in a war year, growth has slowed except for 2013, amid a controversy over the definition of a tourist. (Colombo/Jan03/2019)

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