Sri Lanka tourism targets 750,000 arrivals in 2011

Saturday, 5 February 2011 02:32 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Cheranka Mendis

Encouraged by record achievement last year, Sri Lanka tourism is targeting 750,000 tourist arrivals this year.

“We hope to attract around 750,000 tourists in 2011,” Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa said early this week.

He said that though tourist arrivals rose by 46% to 654,476 in 2010, a similar percentage growth was unlikely — the reason being that the high growth was from a lower base. The targeted figure of between 700,000 and 750,000 arrivals if achieved would mean around 8% or 15% growth.

Speaking at the launch of Harpo’s and OLAK School of Hospitality and Tourism Management early this week, Godahewa said that Sri Lanka could have expected a higher number of tourists if the necessary infrastructure was in place.

 “Sri Lanka tourism is entering a positive period with increasing arrivals in 2010. In 2011 we hope to achieve an arrival figure of between 700, 000 and 750, 000. We can do better but the insufficient hotel room capacity discourages such growth,” Godahewa said.

To reach the level of Sri Lanka’s competitors such as Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore where the annual tourist arrivals reach 15 million, the country must up its infrastructure and quality levels, Godahewa pointed out.

Through quality Sri Lanka can be marketed as a high end destination with reasonably high prices attached. “Our service levels must be comparable with the best in the world. The target is to set up 30, 000 rooms within the next five years which would create a total of 1.5 million employment opportunities within the country,” he said. Godahewa also asserted that as of now the total indirect and direct employment created by tourism in the country was around 125, 000.