Tourism sector upbeat in 2022 | Daily News

Tourism sector upbeat in 2022

Expects over 1.1 mn visitors Sri Lanka named safest in Asia

The World Tourism Council (WTC) has named Sri Lanka as the safest country to travel in the Asian region amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Chairman Kimarli Fernando said.

“In 2022, we are expecting to reach 50 per cent of our best year, which is 2018 in which the country recorded 2.3 million arrivals. Our target is to make half of that in 2022,” Fernando said.

She said that the tourism industry has started recovering and the country recorded 44,294 arrivals in November last year and almost 90,000 in December.

Compared to other Asian countries, an increase in tourist arrivals can be witnessed in Sri Lanka since the country has been able to manage the COVID-19 pandemic scientifically, she added. The Chairperson said the SLTDA has a comprehensive programme to achieve the desired goals. The main objective is to take steps to swiftly attract more tourists to Sri Lanka by scientifically promoting Sri Lanka’s unparalleled natural resources and the cultural potential embedded within the people of Sri Lanka.

“Sri Lanka is back, and we are open for tourists. Our country has everything a post-COVID traveller is looking for. We have created a relaxed, bubble-free travelling for fully vaccinated travellers. Sri Lanka is ready to welcome you with the warmth of our hospitality,” Fernando said .

Meanwhile, tourist arrivals exceeded 31,688 during the past 11 days alone. India is the leading tourism generating market. For December, Sri Lanka recorded 89,506 tourist arrivals, of whom 23,566 or 26.3 per cent were from India. Indian tourists, in addition to holding destination weddings along the Southern beaches, often travel to Nuwara Eliya, while some follow the ‘Ramayana Trail’ curated by tour operators. The other leading markets are Russia, UK and Germany and EU.

Sri Lanka is making its second big attempt to revive tourism after the Easter bombings of April 2019. It recorded about 1.9 million arrivals in 2019, a drop from the record 2.3 million the previous year. In 2020, 507,704 tourists visited Sri Lanka, mostly during the first three months before Sri Lanka reported its first local case of COVID-19 in March 2020.

The sector’s recovery in 2021 was slow, with 194,495 tourists through the year. In normal years, the tourism sector generated over US$ 4 billion. It dropped to US$ 682 million in 2021 and to US$ 82 million until October in 2021, according to Central Bank of Sri Lanka data.

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