Sri Lankan hotel groups face Maldivian downturn

Feb 13, 2009 (LBO) – Two of Sri Lanka’s top conglomerates with resorts in the Maldives could see their earnings affected by a sudden downturn in tourist arrivals to the archipelago, a brokerage said in a research report. C T Smith Stockbrokers said the Aitken Spence and John Keells groups could be hit as the global economic crisis has begun to reduce visitors to the Maldives as it impacts key Western tourist traffic generating markets

It noted that there has been a sharp downturn in arrivals from the most important markets like Italy and Britain.

“The effects of the global recession are seen making its impact on long-haul tourism to the Maldives, with arrivals dropping 4.8 percent to 61,531 in January 2009 from a year ago,” C T Smith Stockbrokers said.

“Following the dip in arrivals in December 2008 this does not bode well for the industry as this is traditionally the peak season.”

December arrivals in the Maldives were down four percent to 62,478 persons from a year ago.

The brokers said they expect tourist traffic to the Maldives to fall this year.

Tourist arrivals to the Maldives increased only 1.1 percent to 683,012 persons in 2008 from the year before.

“Given the slowdown in arr