Published on : Friday, January 6, 2017
Sri Lanka is determined to lure in nearly 2.5 million tourists in the year 2017 , though there have been certain challenges posed by the partial closure of its international airport and also the withdrawal of the national carrier from the markets.
In 2016, this beautiful island country was able to draw as much as 2,058,000 tourists that marks a 14% increase over the last year, as declared by the Minister of Tourism Development, Christian Religious Affairs and Lands, John Amaratunga.
Though the number of tourist arrivals last year was below the target of the regional government of 2.2 million tourists, Amaratunga said that it was the highest ever. He also added that it was a good signal for the industry.
But then, he also added that the numbers were quite below that of destinations that are likely to be its competitors like Malaysia and Thailand that attract about 25 to 30 million tourists annually.
He said that the earnings from tourism in 2016 were estimated to be around US$3.5 billion.
Amaratunga said that the partial closure of the airport for about three months, that is from 6th January to 5th April would be a major setback because it is the peak season for tourists during this point of time.
Sri Lankan Airlines has also pulled out some of the key tourism markets like Germany and France, according to Amaratunga.
He then added that other airlines have also increased the number of flights.
Amaratunga also said that Sri Lanka would also launch a long-delayed international tourist marketing campaign this year.
Sutheash Balasubramaniam, managing director of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Board said that the growth is actually from China and India and these two regions have emerged as the greatest sources of tourist arrivals, with high growth rates.
He went on to add that this year, they are planning to increase our digital marketing in leading markets like Germany, France and United Kingdom.