Over 150,000 tourists during R.W. presidency, $ 280 mn in earnings 

  • Cumulative earnings surpass $ 1 bn by October
  • Highest monthly earnings recorded in March

By Imesh Ranasinghe 

A quarter of the total tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka in 2022 were recorded in the last three months – during which the country saw over 150,000 arrivals and $ 280 million in earnings – since President Ranil Wickremesinghe assumed office on 20 July, Government data revealed, showing a steady increase in tourist confidence.

According to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), between 20 July and 15 November, a total of 152,082 tourist arrivals were recorded, while $ 282.2 million in tourism earnings were seen between July and October.

As of October 2022, yearly tourism earnings surpassed $ 1 billion, marking the first time this happened since 2019, while this year’s highest monthly earnings of $ 191.5 million were recorded in March 2022.

Moreover, during the July-November period, weekly tourist arrivals dropped from 15,281 in the fourth week of July (22-31 July) to a low of 6,408 in the second week of September (8-14 September), before gradually increasing until the second week of November (8-14 November).

A total of 595,471 tourists arrived in Sri Lanka between 1 January and 15 November, out of which 99,891 tourists were from India, and 75,059 from the UK.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday (22), Minister of Tourism and Lands Harin Fernando stated that the Ministry was able to revive the tourism industry in Sri Lanka over the last three months with the greatest difficulty.

He said that social unrest and the economic crisis between April and July resulting in tourists fleeing Sri Lanka, while the majority of airlines cancelled their flights to the country. 

However, he said they were able to regain the confidence of the airlines, as Emirates has announced that it will add one more weekly flight between Dubai and Sri Lanka from 1 December onwards, increasing its schedule for this route to a total of three flights per week.

Swiss International Air Lines also resumed flights to Sri Lanka last week, while Russia’s largest charter airline Azur Air also recommenced flights to Sri Lanka earlier this month.

Minister Fernando added that Condor, a German leisure carrier will soon operate flights to Sri Lanka.

In October, Sri Lanka revised its tourism target from $ 1 billion to $ 1.7 billion, with the projection of around 850,000 tourists arrivals.

Speaking in an interview with TV Derana on Tuesday (22), SLTPB Chairman Chalaka Gajabahu said that according to Russian travel agents, 95% of holidayers have booked trips to Sri Lanka until next March.

He added that the UK market has been developing gradually in the past few years, while there has been an increase in tourist arrivals from Germany, Spain, and France.

President Wickremesinghe had set a target of 2.5 million tourist arrivals for 2023 through the interim Budget 2022 presented in August.