Sri Lanka’s Colombo bursting with tourists in August: minister

In August most beaches in the West and South coasts are caught in Monsoon rains. The East is sunny.

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo is fully booked with a convention involving a Bora religious dignitary and arrivals may top 170,000 in August, or 15 percent below last year’s level, officials said.

“Most hotels in formal and informal sector are fully booked,” Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said.

“Apartment have been booked.”

Minister Amaratunga said about 30,000 Bora tourists wanted to come but Colombo and environs did not have enough rooms.

“Some have fallen back. Definitely 20,000 to 25,000 are to come.”

Sri Lanka’s tourism sector was hit by Easter Sunday attacks by an extremist organization, most of whose members have now been arrested.

Key Western nations, whose intelligence officials were working with Sri Lanka’s authorities rapidly withdrew travel advisories as the network was shutdown within weeks. In May arrivals dropped 60 percent.

Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Johanne Jayaratne said he expected arrivals to top 170,000 in August.

Last year Sri Lanka got about 200,000 visitors, indicating that the August arrivals would only be about 10 percent below 2018.

Jayaratne said he expected tourist arrivals to reach last year’s levels by October.

The winter season beach tourism season involving Sri Lanka’s Western and Southern coasts starts in October after monsoons end. Until about September Sri Lanka’s East Coast is sunny.

Jayaratne said Sri Lanka is now projecting about 2.1 million tourists to arrive in 2019, down from 2.3 million last year, or 10 percent down.

“Sri Lanka is recovering faster than other countries that have experienced similar events,”Amaratunga said.

“I am thankful fo the armed forces, police and intelligence and all those involved.”

Sri Lanka’s hotels slashed prices to draw visitors. Jayaratne said total earnings would be more than 10 percent down due to price cuts.

Sri Lanka is now more attractive and comparable to some East Asian destinations after price cuts.

Politically influential hoteliers in the capital kept prices high for for Colombo city hotels until last year making the city compare unfavourably with some East Asian destinations with better service. (Colombo/Aug31/2019)