Hoteliers and inbound tour operators say tourism industry in dire straits

Tourism authorities say tourist numbers to the island are increasing but hoteliers and inbound tour operators say the industry is in dire straits. Tourism authorities say tourist numbers to the island are increasing but hoteliers and inbound tour operators say the industry is in dire straits. According to Tourist Board statistics tourist arrivals increased 35 percent in May and 42 percent in June, compared to the same months last year and total arrivals for the first six months increased by 13 percent.

But inbound tour operators and hoteliers say occupancy rates outside Colombo have reduced by a massive 60 percent and bookings, even for the next season, are discouraging.

“Even after terrorist attacks arrivals improved after a few months, but after the tsunami it is taking longer. This is because there is a bad perception about the country,” said Malin Hapugoda, President of the Tourist Association of Sri Lanka.

In June, Occupancy in the Southern coastal resorts recorded a dismal 27 percent compared to 37 percent last June.

The hill country and cultural triangle region also had low occupancy of around 30 percent compared to arou