Tourist Arrivals Peaking
- 2.5 Million Target Pipe Dream
Tourist arrival figure is reaching its peak, an official said, implying that President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s target of achieving a 2.5 million tourist arrival figure by 2016 may be a pipe dream.
Earlier, Tourism Development Authority Director General Vipula Wanigasekara, speaking at a tourism seminar in Colombo on Tuesday (June 12) said that tourist arrivals in the first five months of the year grew by 18.2% year on year (YoY), compared to a 30.8% growth for the totality of last year and a 46% YoY growth in the previous year.
He said that arrivals last month (May) grew by 17.5% YoY. Wanigasekara expected to end the year with a million tourists, a 150,000 or a 17.6% YoY increase and earnings to hit the US$ one billion mark. UK, Sri Lanka’s second biggest tourism market has thus far grown by only 1%. On the other hand Germany, the 3rd biggest has grown by 35%, he said. The UK and the Continent is Sri Lanka’s biggest tourism market, though countrywise, India is the largest.
Indians visiting the island in the first five months of the year grew by 4.1% YoY to 71,688.
UK and the rest of Europe (excluding Germany) have been hit badly by the euro zone crisis due to their banks’ exposure to the sovereign debt imbroglio in the region.
Wanigasekara further said that 14 investors had had been given 150 acres in Pasikudah for hotel development, with two hotels, Amethyst and Maalu Maalu completed.
A 50 room hotel is also expected to be on stream in Kalkudah in the coming weeks whilst four islets in Kalpitiya had also been leased out for hotel development.
Out of 210 applications received for hotel development, 92 had obtained approvals from the Authority’s one stop shop.
The country which currently has 24,000 hotel rooms needs to increase it to 45,000 by 2016 to meet the 2.5 million tourist arrival target.
The industry also needs 10,000 tourism professionals annually to cater to this demand.
A Chinese Chamber is being developed in the Galle Museum for Chinese tourists, highlighting visits to the island of Chinese of historical repute such as Fa-Hsien.