Presidential elections: Belly punch for tourism industry | Sunday Observer

Presidential elections: Belly punch for tourism industry

The forthcoming presidential elections will impact the number of tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka negatively, putting the already struggling industry in a tight spot, President of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises in Tourism (ASMET), Rohan Abeywickrama said.

He said small and medium enterprises, that make up to 35 per cent of the tourism sector, will be gravely hit by the dearth of tourists with no proper plan in place to tackle the issue.

The election is due to take place on a day before December 8, but December is Sri Lanka’s peak season for tourism. The industry, that is one of the key revenue generators in the country, suffered a dip in the number of tourist arrivals following the Easter Sunday attacks that claimed the lives of over 250 people including over 40 foreign nationals.

According to statistics of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, the number of arrivals from Europe and Asia-Pacific, (amounting to 90 per cent of the tourists who visit Sri Lanka), nearly halved to 46.9 per cent (115,701) in July compared to the corresponding period last year.

“It is common to see a decrease in tourist arrivals during an election period, which is a good time for politicians but not for tourism,” Abeywickrama said, adding they will now have to take precautions to survive the upcoming elections.