ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau is in the process of revising up its 2023 tourist arrival target after President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s interim budget aimed at much than higher expected arrival target in 2023.
Sri Lanka’s Tourism Development Authority had earlier planned to attract 3 million tourists with a revenue of 7 billion US dollars by 2027.
However, in the interim budget for 2022 presented on Wednesday (30), President Ranil Wickremesinghe has set a target of welcoming 2.5 million travelers by the end of 2023.
“Following the President’s interim budget proposal, we have to change these targets. We need to carry
out aggressive work because the president wants to attract 2.5 million travelers by end next year with more
high spenders,” Priyantha Fernando, the Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority said.
In the interim budget, President has proposed to allocate 300 million rupees to set up a special five-
member committee to identify new tourist destinations in the island and to improve related facilities in
order to attract the 2.5 million travelers and high-end spenders.
The tourism authority had planned for 1.6 million foreign visitors in 2023.
Fernando said the Bureau is up to the challenge, but aggressive promotions must be carried out immediately
as there are bottlenecks mainly in airlines seat capacity.
“We are forecasting further drop in airlines seat capacity to Sri Lanka by next year. But we are holding discussions with airlines to increase,” Fernando said.
“There is no point increasing the demand if we are unable to bring tourists to the country.”
He said SriLankan Airlines had about 31 aircrafts before, but it now has only about 21.
Russian Aeroflot, that was flying to Sri Lanka, has stopped after a legal case that ordered one of its flights to be held at Colombo and Chinese market is still closed with their airlines have stopped, while Malaysian and Singaporean airlines have cut down their airlines seats to Sri Lanka, Fernando added.
“We are hoping that once we create the demand for Sri Lanka (tourism), we will be able to increase the
seat capacity and we need to bring budget airlines from key markets.”
He said the setback created in the last few months due to the jet fuel shortage too has been resolved.
He is hopeful that tourism could be the top dollar earner by 2024.
By the end of 2022, SLTDA is hopeful of welcoming 1 million travelers and generate a revenue of 1.8
Sri Lanka has seen $825 million inflows from tourism in the first seven month of this year, far below it earned in 2018 when the earnings from the sector hit record high. (Colombo/Aug31/2022)