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Overview Of Tourism Statistics

Sri Lanka tourism on the upswing

Srilal Miththapala, eTN  Aug 15, 2010

(eTN) - The immediate post war period gave rise to a dramatic increase in arrivals in Sri Lanka, confirming the fact that the tourism industry is a front-end industry - first to fall heavily when there are problems, and the first to recover once problems are over. In spite of huge losses until around June 2009, the industry improved considerably, showing a net 2% increase in arrivals at the end of the year.

The increasing trend continued in 2010, with each month showing increases of over 30 percent compared to 2009. By the end of July, there was an increase of 49 percent on arrivals, year-on-year. Of course, the comparison is against one of the worst periods for tourism (during early 2009 when the war was at a peak). However, by July last year, the recovery was well on its way, and July 2010 shows a very healthy 50 percent growth compared to July 2009 - indicating that this boom we see, appears to be very real.

The market mix is still heavily weighted towards the Western Europe region, which amounts to almost 40 percemt of the entire market share (with UK accounting for about 45 percent of this segment), confirming that Sri Lanka is still predominantly dependant on the Western tourist, contrary to what is being talked about. However, South Asia is beginning to carve out a major share of almost 26 percent of the total market. Of this South Asian segment, India, as expected, accounts for 70 percent of the share, confirming the fact that it is fast becoming an important market for Sri Lanka. In real terms, visitors from India top the list up to July this year at 64,223, while UK with 59,721 arrivals, is a close second. Germany (25,040), the Middle East (20,627), and France (17,218) account for the other major shares.

The forex earnings for the first quarter also show a healthy increase of 69 percent, year-on-year. This is a direct indication of higher yields (since traditional last-minute discounting of the hotel rates due to the war situation did not occur this year, and thus, prevailing contracted rates were not diluted). This translates into about US$870 per tourist spend, and assuming an average stay per tourist of 10 days, this indicates an approximate average of US$87 spend per day per tourist, which again is an improvement from the current US$80. These augers well for the future, and with a higher post war rate structure expected after November this year, annual earning should surpass US$500 million. Then perhaps annual tourism earnings for 2010 will regain some of the lost ground, after falling to be the 6th largest forex earner for the country, down from its original position of 4th a few years back.

Sri Lanka tourism on the upswing
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