Sri Lanka’s tourism industry begins 2022 with 82,327 arrivals in January amidst Covid
Daily FT: Sri Lanka was upbeat with signs of a good start in 2022, as arrivals topped the 82,000 mark in January amidst COVID-challenges.
As per provisional data released by the Tourism Ministry yesterday, a total of 82,327 tourists arrived in January. However, January arrivals could not beat the 89,506 recorded in December – the highest for a month since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.
Despite a surge in its COVID cases, Russia continues to dominate with 16% as the top tourist source market for Sri Lanka with 13,478 tourists followed by India with 11,751, Ukrainian 7,774, UK 7,442, Germany 5,339 and France 3,616. In addition, tourists were also received from countries such as Poland, Australia, Maldives and Kazakhstan in January.
The first week of January saw 20,544 tourists, but the trend slowed down in the second and third weeks to 18,628 and 16,917 respectively as a result of the spike in global COVID cases. However, the fourth week again showed a sharp increase of arrivals with 26,238.
Sri Lanka revised down the tourist arrivals forecast for 2022 to 1.1 million from an earlier ambitious goal of luring 2.3 million, a move influenced by the surge in ‘Omicron’ variant in major source markets.
Tourism Minister Ranatunga said that the spike in COVID cases, particularly in top source markets in Western Europe and India, has slowed down the tourist arrivals, whilst the strict outbound travel restrictions imposed by China and Japan, too, had impacted the numbers.
He told the Daily FT that the monthly target of 100,000 to 125,000 arrivals will not be accomplished, noting that the future trend of tourism remains uncertain amidst the evolving nature of the pandemic and other correlated variables such as travel restrictions, vaccination rates and efforts in curtailing the pandemic.
Since mid-2021, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) rolled out promotions in several countries, including Russia, France, Germany and the UK. The inflow of tourists has been boosted by increased connectivity as well by international airlines.
The stakeholders hoped that if the momentum would continue till the first half of the year, the industry would see a faster recovery. Sri Lanka lost over US$ 10 billion during the past two years from tourism sector earnings.
Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is on the path to recovery after facing the pandemic challenges and is showing a steady growth in tourist arrivals to the country. The continuous increase in tourist arrivals will result in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry seeing a growth in arrivals than last year. Sri Lanka’s tourism authorities are also engaged in a promotional campaign in key foreign source markets while also looking at new tourism concepts. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka has received wide publicity as a must visit destination island destination in the international media. All this has resulted in an expansion of opportunities in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry. Many international leisure brands have expressed interest in investing in Sri Lanka given the growth shown by the industry. Foreign businesses/investors could therefore explore the growing opportunities in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, especially in the leisure and hospitality sectors.
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