1H tourism earnings at $ 1.3 b; informal sector biggest recipient

Monday, 27 July 2015 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Arrivals up 14% to 836,000
  • European tourists up 14.6% to cross 256,000; Scandinavian boom at 31.8% at HY
  • Inbound from China remains strong with 85.6% growth in June


Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman Dr. Rohantha Athukorala

With the first half tourism earnings crossing $1.3 billion, enhancing the prospect of achieving $ 3 billion mark by year end, Sri Lanka tourism is seeing a new trend where the informal sector is overtaking the formal sector. 

This was revealed by Dr. Rohantha Athukorala, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau, addressing the Rotary Club themed ‘New Tourism Trends Seen in Sri Lanka’.

He said a case in point shared was on the German market in the month of June 2015, where visitor arrivals registered 5,650 arrivals but the available data by the tour operators totalled 2,350 arrivals which accounts only for 40%. This means that the Free Independent Travellers (FIT) accounted for a greater share, in fact more than half, which is an opportunity but it also needs regulation to ensure quality standards are delivered so that the overall image of the destination can be maintained, said Athukorala.

“What this means is that internet booking companies are becoming a key driver of the tourism arrivals, which has its merits and demerits. Merits being the private sector promotion of the destination globally supporting the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau efforts whilst the key demerits being if heavy discounting are taking place, for instance in the German market last month, that is leading to an erosion of the imagery parameters of Sri Lanka,” said Athukorala.

“The future looks bright for the tourism industry,” said the Chairman, “given that we have a very strong below-the-line activation program that includes road shows, attending key travel trade fairs, staging B2B meetings between the Sri Lanka private sector and overseas travel trade agents and operators whilst opening new markets like South Korea, lifestyle brand ‘Bravo on Italy’ and last week’s launch of Sri Lanka Tourism with top 36 private sector companies in the booming city of a China – Quingdao.

“I am very excited on the EOI launch of selecting the best global advertising for a two-year contract with Sri Lanka Tourism after a lapse of five years in Sri Lanka. There has been overwhelming demand with almost 16 companies applying for same which included the top eight global advertising agencies,” he said. “We need to build the global imagery of Sri Lanka as a tourist destination and not as a discount destination brand.”

Recently SLTPB announced the recruitment of 30 key staff members which included three assistant directors in marketing, a top director finance and head of legal which will strengthen the governance of the institution. “We must cross the 1.8 million visitors and achieve the target of $ 3 billion tourism earnings. The good news is that as at end June we had touched $1.3 billion dollars.”