Tourism Minister optimistic of 2.5 m arrivals

Tuesday, 5 September 2017 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga stood firm over the country’s tourist arrival target of 2.5 million by the end of the year and expressed confidence that it could even exceed this projection.

Despite the challenges faced by the industry due to floods, the closure of the Bandaranaike International Airport and dengue, he said arrivals were now picking up.

“I think the season is going to be very good. It might even exceed our estimated target of 2.5 million tourist arrivals,” he added.

According to the Central Bank, tourist arrivals recorded an increase of 4.5%, year-on-year, with 123,351 tourists arriving during June 2017. On a cumulative basis, tourist arrivals grew by 4.8% during the first half of 2017 compared to the corresponding period of 2016. Following the same trend in tourist arrivals, earnings from tourism also increased to $ 211.6 million in June 2017. 

Consequently, on a cumulative basis, earnings from tourism increased by 4.8% to $ 1,733.6 million during the first half of 2017. 

A decline in tourist arrivals from the Middle East, the low growth in Chinese tourist arrivals as well as the rescheduling of some flights due to the resurfacing of the Bandaranayke International Airport (BIA) can be partly attributed to the moderate growth in earnings from tourism during the first half of 2017.

When asked if he was confident about exceeding the estimated target Amaratunga said: “You have to aim high in order to achieve somewhere.”