Tourist arrivals crack 100000 in June after 4 years

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry achieved a significant milestone by welcoming 100,388 tourists last month, marking the first time in four years that arrivals crossed the 100,000 mark in June, signalling positive momentum for the sector.

The boost in arrivals was largely influenced by the Indian travellers following the successful series of roadshows conducted in select cities of India over the past couple of months. India also emerged as the biggest source market year-to-date after finally relegating Russia to second place.

Arrivals in the first six months amounted to 624,874 (as against 32,856 or recording a 206% YoY increase in crisis-hit 2022) – a welcome development for the triple-hit tourism industry, but performance is still down by 46% compared to the same period in the benchmark year 2018.

With 95,104 tourists or 13% remaining to catch up to last year’s arrival target, Sri Lanka aims to achieve its set target of two million arrivals by the end of the year. Despite the ambitious target, the industry anticipates over 1.4 million tourists within the next six months and encouragingly, the stakeholders expressed optimism about accomplishing this target.

India topped the tourist traffic to Sri Lanka in June, with 26,830 visitors, accounting for 27% of the total arrivals for the month, followed by the United Kingdom with 7,981 visitors (8%), Russia with 7,968 visitors (8%), Australia with 6,195 visitors (6%), and China with 5,105 visitors (5%). Additionally, tourists from Germany, Canada, Maldives, the United States, and France also visited Sri Lanka in June.

The daily average arrivals have also improved moderately to 3,346 in June, compared to 2,687 in May, showing signs of off-peak demand.

India also stood strong as the top tourist source market for Sri Lanka YTD with a cumulative number of arrivals at 116,193, followed by Russia with 110,275 and the United Kingdom with 50,822.

“Sustained growth in tourist arrivals reflects the successful efforts made by Sri Lanka Tourism in collaboration with the private sector champions in attracting visitors from across the globe,” Tourism Minister Harin Fernando told the Daily FT.

He also said that India emerging as the top generating market within the first half of the year is a testament to the concerted efforts made via roadshows to showcase Sri Lanka’s unique and diverse travel destination.

In addition to India, China also made a strong comeback as it made it to Sri Lanka’s top five source markets in June. In March, China got into the top 10 source markets despite the slow start due to COVID travel restrictions after three years, securing the ninth position, and in April, it clinched the sixth spot.

During the crisis-free 2018, tourist arrivals from China stood at 265,965 and was the second largest generating market for Sri Lanka.

“China is expected to perform better going forward, as three of its main carriers are now operating into Colombo,” Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Chairman Priantha Fernando told the Daily FT.

Air China – the flag carrier of the People’s Republic of China started operating three scheduled flights per week yesterday.

He also emphasised that the successful timing of the marketing blitz that will start during the latter part of the month will augur well in wooing tourists from the target markets over the second half of the year to prepare for a great winter season.