Sri Lanka tourist arrivals fall 32-pct in January

Feb 16, 2009 (LBO) – Foreign visitors to Sri Lanka plunged 32.4 percent in January 2009 to 38,468 compared with the same month last year, the island’s tourist promotion office said, with a global economic crisis depressing leisure travel. Arrivals from Western Europe, a key generating market that is crucial to keep coastal resorts in jam, fell 25.2 percent to 15,674.

The UK generated 15 percent less visitors at 6,599, Germany 4,674 and the Netherlands 40 percent less at 1,214.

But French visitors increased 21 percent to 1,805. Eastern European arrivals fell 10 percent to 4,407.

Last year’s January visitors of 56,916 were buoyed by the arrival of a religious dignitary with his followers, industry analysts said.

This year’s key ‘winter season’ was hit by a global economic crisis that hit leisure travel with a fall in the British Pound and Euro that made foreign travel more expensive for Western Europeans.

The industry was also hit by travel advisories after an internal conflict flared up in 2006.

But with Sri Lanka expecting an early end to the military campaign against Tamil Tiger separatists, hoteliers are hopeful of a reversal of fortunes this year.

We see a possible upswing of arrivals