Sri Lanka’s 2.5mn tourist arrivals target by 2016 not likely: Report


July 22, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka will not be able to lure 2.5 million tourists by 2016 as claimed by the previous government, a recent industry report said.

“Achieving 2.5 million tourists by 2016 is not a pragmatic goal,” Bartleet Religare Securities (BRS) said in a report.

“For the country to reach 2.5 million visitors by 2016 the annual arrivals should increase by approximately 28 percent per annum,”

As of December 2014 a total of 1.5 million tourists visited the island while the compound annual growth rate of tourists from 2009 to 2014 was 27.8 percent.

Tourist numbers grew by 19.8 percent year-on-year in 2014 and has grown by just 14.1 percent for the six months ending in June so far this year.

Experts have attributed the slowdown of the numbers to the dying off of the post-war euphoria and the lack of proper integrated marketing campaigns.

“The country over the past considerably lagged in promotional campaigns in the correct source markets,” the report said.

“However, the authorities are now taking steps and working towards fostering and attracting more awareness to the island nation thereby contributing to the arrivals growth.”

The new regime elected in January has placed significant importance in improving the country’s international relations and as a result improved Sri Lanka’s image in the international scene.

The government is concentrating on better handling of human rights issues and re-connecting with the country’s Tamil Diaspora while also renewing and mending the previously strained diplomatic ties with the Western world.

It is also enhancing relationships and promoting equal importance to regional peers India and China.

The report says, despite Sri Lanka being in the midst of travel advisories especially for the European markets on and off from 2011-2014 the Western European region has continuously been the largest source market for Sri Lanka.

“Therefore, the European segment should not be neglected in the search for high arrivals numbers from the emerging markets,”

“India has long been the single largest source market for the country while China is the fastest growing source market.”

Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals rose 11.9 percent to 115,467 in June 2015 from a year earlier, driven by India and China, data shows.

In the year to June, arrivals of visitors were up 14.1 percent to 830,051 from the year before.

India, Sri Lanka top market up by 29.9 percent to 25,860 while arrivals from China up 85.6 percent to 15,487.

Visitors from Western Europe were up 19.7 percent to 27,766.