Tourism chief confident of at least 50% of pre-pandemic monthly arrivals from January


Sri Lanka Tourism yesterday, December 7, sounded upbeat in the efforts they are currently rolling out to lure international travellers and said they are confident of the island nation attracting at least half of the pre-pandemic arrival numbers in 2022.

According to the forecast of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) chief, Kimarli Fernando, based on the current trends observed in arrivals numbers, Sri Lanka is well within its capabilities of welcoming about 100,000 tourists every month starting next year, which is less than half of the monthly arrivals in 2018.

From August this year, tourist arrivals to the country has nearly doubled every month, indicating a steady increase in interest in the country among global travellers.

In August, Sri Lanka welcomed 5, 040 visitors, which increased to 13,547 in September, and then to 22,771 in October and 44, 294 in November. The number of airlines flying to the country too has increased.

“I trust they don’t do charity and they are coming here for a reason,” Kimarli Fernando told a panel at the Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2021 held last evening.

While the SLTDA chief remains optimistic of a speedy rebound, McKinsey & Company Partner  Steve Saxon pointed out that Sri Lanka is sending out mixed messages to its target markets with diverse platforms sending different messages about the openness of the country for tourism.

“You need to ensure that the entry requirements are shared in a really easy and simple to understand manner. Our research showed that it was pretty hard to find out about (Sri Lanka’s) travel industry. There are a variety of messages out there and all this you get within just 10 minutes of internet search,” stressed Steve Saxon.

According to the acclaimed travel and logistics expert, some government websites indicated the allowance of only essential travel, while another website said ‘Hello’ and ‘Welcome Back’. Some highlighted the need for quarantine for vaccinated travellers, whereas others said it is not required.

Saxon asserted the need to have a single message with an emphasis on the steps tourists are required to follow when entering the country.

The travel expert also pointed out that the domestic market will be the mainstay for recovery for the near future given that the Covid-19 situation remains uncertain across the world with each country imposing its own set of travel restrictions.