Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals drop sharply by 22% in November

December 20, 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s visitor arrivals in November slumped to 22.4 percent, the Tourist Board said Wednesday, prompting fears that the dwindling numbers will spillover to 2007. Sri Lanka welcomed 549,308 visitors in 2005 and the board is hoping to equal the score this year. The island greeted 37,591 holidaymakers in November over 48,457 tourists in 2005, however, cumulative arrivals from Jan-Nov were up 4.5 percent to 520,378, the board said.

Key western countries have issued travel warnings against traveling to Sri Lanka following recent attacks in Colombo city.

Government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels locked in combat are spooking visitors, with hotel occupancies down to around 45-50 percent, the Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka said recently.

“The adverse publicity the country received in the last few months was very badly timed as October and November was the peak booking period for the winter 2006/2007 season. Bulk of the prospective bookings have gone to other destinations,” the association’s vice president, Srilal Miththapala said

The association says negative publicity is also hitting summer bookings for 2007, and hotels and resorts are unable