By Cheranka Mendis
Tourist arrivals in February grew by 15% to 65,797 bringing the year to date figure to 140,000 reflecting a 29% increase over 2010.
|A view of the Sri Lanka Pavilion at the world’s biggest travel fair ITB in Berlin last week. Pic courtesy ITB.
Sri Lanka Tourism officials attributed the February rise to ICC Cricket World Cup. The 15% growth in February was over 57,300 arrivals a year earlier whilst in 2009 February the numbers were 34,169. The latter suggests that tourist arrivals have almost doubled between 2009 and 2011.
Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Minister in charge of Tourism Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene at a recent press conference assured that 26% growth per month is needed to achieve the 700,000 tourist arrival target set for the year.
At the time, the Minister claimed that with the World Cup and Golf Tournaments in Pallekele, this figure could easily be achieved.
However, the country was able to record only a 14.8% growth rate in February, falling short of the target predicted by the Minister, who attended the ITB 2011 in Berlin Germany last week.
Statistics show that the growth has been driven by the 31,092 tourists coming in from Western Europe with South Asia following its course with 13,585 tourists. As individual countries however, India managed to stand its place for yet another month with 10,071 tourists while UK hauled in the second largest with 9,614. The third largest group to enter the country was from Germany which stood its ground as third largest for the past few months with arrivals numbering 5,367. All numbers show an increase from the January arrival figures.
Hotels enjoy over 90% room occupancy in December
SRI LANKA, which surpassed its growth target for tourism in 2010, has achieved a room occupancy rate of 91.1 per cent in December last year. In 2009 this figure was 71.2 per cent.
Five star hotels recorded room occupancy rate of 94.8 per cent while four star hotels achieved a 93.7 per cent. In the previous year, the statistics were at 77 per cent in December.
Statistics issued by Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority indicated that in 2010 December, a total of 14,714 rooms had been used in across all star categories. Region wise 3,141 rooms have been occupied in Colombo, 2,839 in Greater Colombo, 5,099 in the Southern Court and 2,659 in the ancient cities of Kandy, Anuradhapura, Habarana, Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa.
Monthly occupancy rates in 2010 have steadily grown with 82 per cent in January, 84 per cent in February and 78 per cent in March. The April to June period saw a dip in occupancy rates and in July it regained its pace to 72 per cent and continued with 71 per cent in August, 62 per cent in September, 67 per cent in October, 87 per cent in November to end with 91 per cent in December.
Statistics for January and February are yet unavailable from Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.