Tourism in Sri Lanka has earlier than anticipated a better recovery. In June, the tourist arrivals almost increased to 63,072 in May, compared with 37,802 in May, but 57% lower than the prior year, with adverse results to date in the past.
Minister John Amaratunga said with recent arrival numbers that quicker recovery could be anticipated. “We anticipated that the sector could recover nine months ago. However, recent numbers verify that it could take four months. Sri Lanka finished the 2018 market with 2,33 million tourist arrivals, up by 10.3 percent compared to 2017, and although we wouldn’t pass that figure, in 2019, we would be touching a two million market arrivals.
Amaratunga said that the Bible of tourism, ‘Lonely Planet,’ despite the Easter Sunday blasts, has once again said that Sri Lanka is the world’s best destination for tourists to visit. “While giving tremendous free publicity, this reassurance by ‘Lonely Plant’ is a huge encouragement for travel agents and tour operators to market Sri Lanka in their usual aggression.”
Amaratunga said that one reason for the speedy recovery is the assurance by the government and security forces on the country’s overall security situation.
Removal and toning down of travel advisories and focus on a global marketing campaign and the unity of the industry stakeholders too attributed to this.” The Minister said the incidents of 21/4 showed as to how dependent the country was on tourism and its roots, even stretching to the poorest of the poor. “This is one reason the government came up with a relief package for the industry and other stakeholders.”
However, Amaratunge said that the implementation is still slow and added that he was constantly in dialogue with the President, the Prime Minister and Finance Minister, to speed up this process.
“However, I cannot extend this influence and persuasion I am making to the government to both private and state banks and also finance companies as they are not under my purview.”
He also said that restaurants serving 100% authentic Sri Lankan cuisine, are gaining in popularity not only among Sri Lankans but also among foreigners as well. “The Sri Lankan cuisine too was highlighted in ‘Lonely Planet’ and this is also a plus point for Sri Lanka’s destination marketing.”