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Tourist arrivals dip 52% in May

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The total number of international tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka during May 2022 was 30,207.

Tourist arrivals for the month of May have plunged by almost 52%, in comparison to April and 72% in comparison to March 2022, which recorded the highest number of tourist arrivals up to May, 2022. This could be a result of the effects of the current economic and political situation in Sri Lanka, and the gradual cessation of the peak travel season, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority data showed.

As of May 31, 2022, 378,521 international tourists had visited Sri Lanka for this year. The largest source markets recorded for the month of May were India, the United Kingdom, Russia, followed by Germany and Canada. Europe became the largest source of tourist traffic to Sri Lanka with 48.8 % of the total traffic received in May 2022. Pent up demand especially from countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Russia is likely to have driven this growth momentum. Asia and the Pacific accounted for 3 3.3 % of total arrivals. The Americas accounted for 11.7 % of the total traffic while the Middle East accounted for 5.1 %.

The gradual improvement in international travel was once again threatened by external factors such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, coupled with the related challenging economic environment, and internal factors such as the economic crisis in Sri Lanka undermining consumer confidence, which was gradually building up India, the United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Germany, and Canada were Sri Lanka’s top five international tourist generating markets for the month of May this year.

India was the largest source of tourist visits to Sri Lanka with 18 % of the total traffic received in May. The on arrival visa facility introduced for the Indian tourists could have partly contributed to the increased arrivals from India. The United Kingdom and Russian Federation accounted for 12% and 11% of the total traffic respectively while Germany and Canada accounted for 7% (both) .The advisories against travel to Sri Lanka by major source markets such as the United Kingdom, Germany and France due to political and economic unrest in Sri Lanka , could be the likely reasons for this decline.

Further the rising inflation in the European region due to the war in Ukraine too could have detrimental effects on tourism in Sri Lanka. India, the United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Germany and France were Sri Lanka’s top five international tourist -generating markets from January to May this year. Poland has recorded the highest growth in comparison to January to May 2021. An analysis of tourist arrivals by purpose of visit reveals that a majority (48% ) of tourists had visited Sri Lanka for pleasure /vacation while for 33% of tourists the main purpose was visiting friends and relatives.

In comparison to April 2022, the tourists who had visited Sri Lanka for pleasure/vacation purposes had decreased while tourists who had come for VFR purposes had increased.

The reason could be the expatriates as 75% of arrivals from Canada and 70% of arrivals from Australia were for the purpose of visiting friends and relatives. Only 5 % of tourists had visited for business related purposes. 1% had visited for health related purposes, while 0.1% had visited for purposes such as sports and education.

An analysis of the last departure airports to Sri Lanka reveals the vital importance of air connectivity in the tourism industry. As mentioned, for around 46% of tourists the last airports were Doha, Moscow and Chennai. Further, in terms of airlines, Sri Lankan Airlines, Qatar Airways and Emirates were the top airlines, handling 67% of tourists to Sri Lanka.


Thursday, June 9, 2022 – 01:00

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