Sri Lanka tourism upbeat for 2023 amidst global recession fears

Welcomes over 30,000 tourists in first 10 daysRussia takes a head-start over India, as top source market with a lead of over 5,000 touristsDaily average arrivals pick up to over 3,200, highest since March Russia, India and UK amongst top source markets thus farBanks on MICE, adventure, wellness, sustainable, high-end tourism areas this yearExpresses confidence to brave the adverse impacts of any challenge as a resilient nation

Despite global recession fears, Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is upbeat with signs of a good start in 2023 with plans of comprehensive global promotions from next month.

The industry is off to a promising start with average daily arrivals exceeding 3,200 as opposed to over 2,000 in December, marking it the highest since March 2022.

Sri Lanka has welcomed 30,832 tourists in the first 10 days of the month comprising 20,875 in the first week and 9,957 in the other three days, the provisional data released by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority showed. 

Interestingly, Russia has taken a head-start over India as the top source market with a lead of over 5,000 tourists. Russia drew 8,578 or 28% of the total tourists, followed by India with 3,549 or 11%, UK with 2,506 or 8%, Germany with 2,194 or 7%, and France with 1,535 or 5%.

“We are excited about 2023, as plans are underway to make Sri Lanka a year-round destination. This year we will explore new opportunities and launch a global promotion from next month,” Tourism Minister Harin Fernando told the Daily FT.

Despite it being a ‘crisis year’ Sri Lanka ended 2022 with 719,978 tourists, up by 207% over 2021. Though missing the original target of 750,000 arrivals, the Minister said the provisional data shows that the earnings target of $ 1.7 billion was achieved last year. 

For 2023, the Sri Lanka Tourism has set an ambitious target of 1.5 million arrivals and an income of $ 5 billion by attracting high-end travellers who spend over $ 400 per day from the current $ 200.

He also said that Sri Lanka will bank on MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events), adventure, and wellness tourism segments this year. 

“Two massive events for MICE tourism are already booked in the calendar for February and April already from the neighbouring giant — India. These two bookings alone will bring in a massive number,” he added.

New markets such as Japan, Korea, Georgia, Australia, New Zealand and Eastern Europe countries will also be explored he said, adding that plans are also underway to attract a portion of US tourists coming to India as an extended holiday destination.

Minister Fernando highlighted that a comprehensive mobile App will be introduced at the end of the month focused on all needs of a traveller coming to Sri Lanka, which also addresses the imperative factor of security. The App consists of features like places to visit, hotels, restaurants, reviews, hospitals and other key details which enable safe travel for tourists.

“Sri Lanka has already started implementing several strategies available to enhance sustainable tourism. However, to ensure consistency of these initiatives a massive project aiming to enhance public knowledge on the importance of tourism to economic growth and sustainability will be launched covering school levels to the top corporates,” he said.

With fears of the looming global recession, he said Sri Lanka Tourism is ready to brave any internal or external challenge as a resilient nation.

“Sri Lanka is world famous for its resilience. Our stakeholders have faced multiple challenges and overcome the worst situations. We hope all these efforts will put the country back as a top destination in the globe, amidst the crises,” Minister Fernando said.