ECONOMYNEXT- State-owned national carrier SriLankan Airlines brought 641,634 tourists to the country in 2017, down 2.1 percent from a year earlier, with market share lost to other Asian carriers, the government tourism office said.
Total arrivals to Sri Lanka from flights, charter flights and ships had increased 3.2 percent from a year earlier to 2.1 million tourists in 2017, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority said.
SriLankan’s market share in bringing tourists to Sri Lanka either directly, or through connecting flights fell to 30.3 percent from 32 percent in 2016.
The fall in SriLankan’s business came even after absorbing Mihin Lanka in November 2017, and reporting all of Mihin’s traffic under the national carrier for the entire year. Mihin brought in 23,792 tourists to the country a year earlier.
Emirates remained the second, bringing 303,732 tourists, down 10.3 percent from 2016, while Qatar Airways stayed in the third position with 159,418 tourists, down 0.5 percent.
Sriwijaya Air, an Indonesian carrier which started operations to Sri Lanka in 2017 broke away 136,434 tourists from established carriers, pushing down Jet Airways to the fifth spot with 70,413 tourists, a 35.3 percent fall from a year earlier.
China Eastern, Air Asia, Air India, Korean Airlines and Royal Dutch Airlines were other carriers which grew strongly, while tourists coming on charter flights grew fourfold to 51,379.
Of the 680,901 Western Europeans who visited the country, up 5.8 percent from a year earlier, SriLankan brought in 126,740, down 19.1 percent from 2016. This was due to the airline stopping loss-making routes to Paris, Frankfurt and Milan.
SriLankan’s market share for Western Europe fell to 18.6 percent from 24.4 percent a year earlier.
Emirates too saw tourist numbers slip 7.8 percent to 183,937 tourists.
The third largest supplier for Western Europe, Qatar Airways, gained marginally to 113,100 tourists, while fourth and fifth place Etihad and Oman Air stole market share away from other players.
Sriwijaya also broke market share away from other airlines, bringing 25,253 tourists.
SriLankan brought in 263,083 South Asian tourists to Sri Lanka in 2017, up 1.9 percent from 2016. This was a 50.8 percent market share, up from 50.3 percent in 2016.
SriLankan started a restructure to become a more regional airline in 2017. However, the South Asian tourism market fell 0.9 percent for Sri Lanka from a year earlier, with 518,085 tourists.
Sriwijaya was the closest competitor, bringing 53,862 South Asians.
Sriwijaya Air pushed down Jet Airways and SpiceJet from the number two and three spots to third and sixth place respectively, with the two Indian carriers losing around half their traffic from a year earlier.
Emirates and Air India managed to hold on to their numbers and market share in 2017.
The third largest market for SriLankan was East Asia, bringing in 155,136 tourists, up 27.2 percent from a year earlier.
The market share for SriLankan from East Asia grew to 34.9 percent from 28.7 percent a year earlier.
Total tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka from East Asia had been 444,310 in 2017, up 4.5 percent from 2016.
The national carrier began direct flights to Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China eliminating stopovers via Bangkok, and started flights to Bangkok with higher frequency during 2017.
Sriwijaya Airlines came second, breaking away 38,559 tourists from carriers with established flights to Sri Lanka.
Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Korean Air, China Eastern, Air China and Cathay Pacific lost traffic to Sri Lanka.
The 161,967 Eastern European tourists (up 0.5 percent from 2016) preferred Middle Eastern carriers, with Emirates having an 18 percent share, and FlyDubai 17 percent.
SriLankan’s market share for Eastern Europeans fell to 6.1 percent from 10.9 percent, with tourist numbers down 43.6 percent to 9,915.
SriLankan was the leading operator out of the Middle East, bringing 24,775 tourists, down 30.8 percent from a year earlier, while the market share fell to 25.9 percent from 33.3 percent.
Total arrivals from Middle East too had fallen 11.2 percent from 2016 to 95,581 tourists, with airlines based in the region, such as Emirates, Qatar Airways and Saudia also recording falls in tourist traffic.
Although arrivals to Sri Lanka from Australasia grew 9.7 percent from a year earlier to 92,003 tourists, SriLankan brought in 21,841 tourists, down 36.3 percent.
The market share for SriLankan fell to 23.7 percent from 32 percent a year earlier. This is despite SriLankan starting a new service to Melbourne in October 2017.
Emirates’ volumes also slipped, while Singapore Airlines made some gains. The disruption in this region came from AirAsia, growing 479.4 percent from 2016 to bring 9,038 tourists. (Colombo/Nov05/2018)