July 27, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is seeing a new trend where the informal arrivals are overtaking the formal arrivals, the tourism chief said.
Rohantha Athukorala, the chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau, giving the example of German arrivals to Sri Lanka, said 5,650 arrivals had been registered but data available from tour operators totaled just 2,350 which accounted for 40 percent.
“Which means that Free Independent Travellers (FIT) account for a greater share,” Athukorala said.
“Internet booking companies are becoming a key driver of tourism arrivals which has its merits and demerits.”
He said private sector has taken the lead in promoting Sri Lanka as a destination while supporting government promotion as well.
Most of the hotels and house stays in Sri Lanka advertise online and offer various discounts to encourage visitors, while visitor review sites help hotels build their brand names. These sites also help tourists select the best quality stay.
Tourism earnings in the first half of the year crossed the 1.3 billion dollar mark with the industry poised to achieve three billion dollars in 2015.
Sri Lanka’s tourism grew at a pace of 14.1 percent and crossed 836,000 in the first six months, data showed.
However, Athukorala says that Sri Lanka needs to build a global image for the island as a tourist destination and not as a discount destination.
“But we also need regulation to ensure quality standards are delivered so that the overall image of the destination can be maintained,” he said.