Opportunity Sri Lanka | » Sri Lanka ready for ambitious comeback this winter season: Tourism leaders.
Sri Lanka ready for ambitious comeback this winter season: Tourism leaders.

Sri Lanka ready for ambitious comeback this winter season: Tourism leaders.

Daily FT: Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is ramping up efforts to achieve the set target of one million arrivals and boost foreign exchange inflows to overcome the economic woes.
Despite limited financial resources for global promotions, the authorities along with private sector players are working tirelessly to explore various alternate cost-effective avenues to make this winter season a great comeback for the industry, as well as for the economy.
“Sri Lanka Tourism is doing everything possible to ensure that our product is in good shape for this peak season. We must also be mindful of the stiff competition and the increasing cost of living globally. However, with the relaxed travel advisories on Sri Lanka, the destination is once again in good demand. We are prepared for a bounce this winter after 2018,” Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Chairman Priantha Fernando told the Daily FT.
He pointed out that despite adverse travel advisories, the UK topped the tourist traffic to Sri Lanka with 18% or 6,500 in August, showcasing faith in the destination. The Government is pinning a lot of hopes on tourism as a low-hanging fruit to boost foreign exchange earnings amidst the ongoing economic crisis. Fernando also said urgent efforts are underway to increase the air connectivity and seating capacity operating into Sri Lanka, whilst noting the Energy Ministry and Ports, Shipping and Aviation Ministry had assured support to keep the tourism sector ticking in the upcoming holiday season.
“If we can guarantee international airlines sufficient supply of fuel for the return trip, most of them would resume operations to Colombo and I believe we must thrive this winter. We also need to fast-track our negotiations with Aeroflot to draw a significant number of Russian tourists,” he explained. Following the acute short supply of jet fuel during the past couple of months, several airlines had to reduce passenger capacity and cargo loads to carry out the additional fuel for their return trip, whilst some reduced or cancelled their operations in Sri Lanka. The situation compelled several international airlines including the national carrier – SriLankan Airlines to fly to Trivandrum, Chennai, and Kochi airports in South India to refuel before continuing to Colombo.
He outlined the UK, Germany, France, Switzerland, Spain, Australia, Netherlands, and Russia as key tourist destinations Sri Lanka could pin hope for arrivals this winter.
Fernando also expressed confidence that Sri Lanka could achieve its set target of one million tourists whilst earning over $ 1.75 billion by year-end.
Reopening China for inbound travel and resumption of direct flights to Russia as per the SLTDA Chief would be a game changer for Sri Lanka to boost arrivals from 2023 onwards.
“We can easily expect 75,000 to 80,000 seats from Russia if Aeroflot can resume operations in the immediate future and anticipate around 125,000 to 150,000 from next year onwards. From China we can expect over 200,000 as they are waiting to explore post-two years of restrictions,” he opined.
Two leading industry bodies – the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) and The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) told the Daily FT that despite the daunting task, they were ready for a good winter season with characteristic hospitality.
“The whole industry is looking forward to the upcoming winter season which we are hopeful will operate with some semblance of normalcy. The bookings in the formal sector look reasonably healthy. As for preparedness, the DMCs and hotels are ready and eagerly awaiting the visitors.
“Going by how we handled the tourist arrivals during the height of the crisis when fuel and gas were in complete short supply, I think we are prepared for winter and look forward to all the bookings we can get. Sri Lanka needs a good winter to help uplift the economy with an inflow of foreign exchange,” SLAITO President Nishad Wijetunga told the Daily FT.
SLAITO Chief is banking on most of the arrivals from the traditional winter markets such as the UK and Europe.
THASL President M. Shanthikumar said Sri Lanka needs to thrive rather than survive from 2023 onwards.
“Domestic tourists acted as the backbone of the industry during the pandemic and economic crisis. I think it was one of the eye-openers for the industry to understand the importance of domestic visitors for tourism. However, we need international travellers to thrive in this winter season. We have got a good interest for winter as we look ahead and hope the confirmed reservations will start to flood in from this month onwards,” he explained.
There are 240 hotels registered with the SLTDA, and together Sri Lanka has close to 50,000 rooms to be filled in this peak season.
“We have already got inquiries coming from the traditional markets such as the UK and Western Europe. I am confident Sri Lanka can achieve the one million target and achieve around $ 1.5 billion in income by the end of this year.
“Realising these targets will be a good stepping stone for us in the next few years as well as for the revival process of the industry and the economy,” he explained.
OSL take:
Sri Lanka’s tourism industry stakeholders are confident of increased tourist arrivals to the country during the upcoming tourist industry. The steady growth in tourist arrivals to the country and the special programmes and incentives promoted by local tourism authorities have managed to woo foreign visitors to the country. Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is now on the path to normalcy after facing challenges posed by the global pandemic. The exposure received by Sri Lanka in the international media as a must visit tourist destination and the listing of the country among the top island destinations have all helped boost tourist arrivals to the country. All these developments have attracted international leisure brands to express interest in entering Sri Lanka’s tourism industry. Given the growing business potential in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, foreign businesses/investors could explore the opportunities in the country’s tourism industry, especially in the leisure and hospitality sectors.

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Article Code : VBS/AT/28092022/X_4

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