Russian tourists boost Sri Lanka’s tourism revival in October.
Daily FT: Russian tourists have boosted October arrivals sharply, enabling Sri Lanka to bounce back by 41% to 42,026 from the lowest 29,802 in September and surpassing the 550,000 mark in the first 10 months.
The boost in arrivals was largely influenced by the resumption of Russian flag carrier – Aeroflot as well as the successful series of roadshows conducted in select cities of India last month.
Russia also emerged as the second biggest source market in October after India and relegated the UK to number three.
Arrivals in the first 10 months amounted to 568,258 (as against 22,771 in COVID-hit 2021) – a welcome development for the triple-hit tourism industry, but performance is still down by 73% compared to the same period in pre-COVID 2018.
In October, India topped the tourist traffic to Sri Lanka with 8,862 tourists reflecting 21% of the total arrivals, followed by Russia with 6,189 tourists (15%), the UK with 4,275 (10%), Germany with 2,881 (7%), and Australia with 2,106 (5%). In addition, tourists were also received from Maldives, Canada, France, US and Switzerland, the data released by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) showed.
It also showed that the daily average arrivals have slightly picked up to 1,356 in October, compared to 993 recorded in September, following the exaggerated negative publicity on the ongoing economic crisis.
India also stood strong as the top tourist source market for Sri Lanka YTD with a cumulative number of arrivals at 95,487, followed by the UK with 72,802, Russia with 57,489, Germany with 45,389, France with 30,976, Australia with 22,827, Canada with 22,233, US 16,503, Ukraine 14,113, and Poland 13,869.
Sri Lanka has been included among the Top 10 friendliest countries in the world as per the 2022 Readers’ Choice Awards conducted by the popular magazine Condé Nast Traveller. Sri Lanka has ranked at number nine ahead of the Philippines in the ranking. French Polynesia tops the list.
Tourism Minister Harin Fernando is hopeful of achieving 800,000 visitors and income of over $ 1.7 billion from the sector by the year-end, noting that the international rankings, resumption of more international airlines from this month as well as the promotions augur well to boost arrivals this winter season.
“We will formally start promoting the FIFA Zone travel packages targeting the World Cup fans for a month from tomorrow. In addition, Sri Lanka Tourism is planning to continue the journey of the roadshows in November across Bengaluru, Chennai and Cochin markets to woo more Indian travellers as well as filmmakers,” he told the Daily FT.
Minister Fernando also believes that the Mastercard promotions will play a huge role in targeting corporate travellers.
With more European carriers planning to fly into Colombo from November, Sri Lanka Tourism is banking on a busy winter season from November to March 2023.
Swiss leisure airline – Edelweiss, French flag carrier – Air France, Netherlands flag carrier – Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM), and Russia’s largest charter airline – Azur Air will resume service to Colombo from the first week of this month.
Earnings from tourism in the first five months were $ 893 million as against $ 64 million a year earlier. Earnings from tourism in August are estimated at $ 68 million, compared to $ 85 million in the previous month, and $ 13 million in the corresponding month in 2021.
Russia has become one of the main tourist source markets for Sri Lanka with an increase in Russian tourists visiting the country. There has been an overall increase in tourist arrivals to the country in the past few months, indicating the industry’s return to normalcy following the challenges posed by the global pandemic. The increase in the number of international airlines operating flights to Sri Lanka is a further indication of the steadily growing tourism industry in Sri Lanka. The many promotional campaigns carried out by local tourism authorities and the continued exploring of new tourism concepts have all helped boost tourist arrivals to the country. However, all these movements are indicative of the expanding business/investment opportunities in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, especially in the leisure and hospitality sectors. The fast evolving tourism market in the country had also opened a host of opportunities in the development of supplementary infrastructure facilities. With international leisure and hospitality brands expressing interest in Sri Lanka and the growth as well as business potential in the tourism industry also serve as confidence boosters for foreign businesses/investors to explore opportunities in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry.
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