Post-Easter Sunday extremist terror attacks, tourist arrivals are estimated to have plunged between 50-70%, triggering fresh concerns within the industry and calls for urgent revival measures.
In comparison to an average arrival of 5-6,000 plus tourists per day in the previous peaceful setting, post-Easter Sunday terror attacks, arrivals have dropped to below 2,000 per day. As per provisional data seen by the Daily FT, within a week since the Easter Sunday attack, arrivals had dropped by 70% to 1,800 on Saturday 27 April. The drop the day after the terror attacks was around 50% to 2,900.
Industry sources said that the drastic drop was owing to adverse travel advisories, and global media reporting on the post-Easter Sunday incidents. As a security measure, the Government introduced partial emergency, as well as imposed night time curfew.
Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera last week hinted that tourist arrivals this year could drop by 30%, whilst Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Kishu Gomes was quoted by Reuters on Monday, on the sidelines of Arabian Travel Mart in Dubai, that arrivals to Colombo will fall by 50% over the next two months, and by 30% outside the city following the Easter Sunday attacks, which killed over 250 including nearly 50 tourists.
SriLankan Airlines’ CEO Vipula Gunatilleka was also quoted by Reuters, saying that the carrier had a 10% increase in cancellations last week, and expects that number to rise.
Tourism was Sri Lanka’s third-largest and fastest-growing source of foreign earnings last year, after private remittances and textile and garment exports, accounting for almost $4.4 billion or 4.9% of GDP in 2018. Gomes told Reuters that Sri Lanka targeted 2.5 million visitors in 2019, up from 2.3 million last year.
“We will probably reach about 2 million,” Gomes told reporters. “We are looking at providing some concessions to the industry, for them to be able to maintain their viability for the next few months,” he told Reuters. Gomes said confidence could return if the military is able to give assurances on security.