John wants 1 million Indian tourists this year

By Madhusha Thavapalakumar

Sri Lanka’s presence at the India International Travel and Tourism (IITT) exhibition is expected to attract 1 million Indian tourists into Sri Lanka in 2019, one third of the total tourist target for the year.

Speaking to The Sunday Morning Business, Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs, John Amaratunga said that the IITT promotion would ensure this target is met.

“Indian market is going to give us 1 million tourists. I went and launched a big programme in Mumbai.”

According to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), India is the largest tourist traffic generator to Sri Lanka by contributing over 18% (420,000) to the total tourist arrivals of 2.3 million in 2018.

In 2019, the the Tourism Minister expects to increase Indian tourist arrivals by 58%.

Speaking further, Amaratunga noted that travel agents from India will be coming to Sri Lanka in June this year, to plan their conventions and events.

“800 travel agents, wedding planners and film producers from India are coming in June to have their conventions and to interact with our hotel agents. We don’t need to go anywhere if we can get one million from India.” he said.

However, the Minister had a different opinion on Sri Lanka’s second largest tourism source market, China.

“Chinese people are coming in but they are very troublesome. But we have good connectivity with India and China”, he added.

Amaratunga was optimistic about achieving 3 million tourists in 2019 with estimated tourism earnings of 4 billion US dollars by the end of the year.