Tourism and coronavirus | Sunday Observer

Tourism and coronavirus

Industry will face negative impact

Leading hotelier and Chairman Jetwing Group Hiran Cooray outlined the possible impact of the coronavirus on the tourism industry and hotel sector in particular.

The tourism industry world over will face the negative impact of the Coronavirus as the modern day traveller will think twice when it comes to foreign tours.

The local industry is also faced with a similar fate as we are heavily depended on the Chinese market to attract tourists. China has been a growth prospect and a promising market to fuel the momentum. The spread of virus has made the fast recovery of the industry an extreme difficult scenario as the Chinese account for a significant portion of global tourism.

It is of paramount importance to have a proper outline with key industry stakeholders on how they are going to pitch to the Chinese market in going forward.

On average, Sri Lanka receives about 4,800 Chinese tourists per week from various airlines, including China Southern, China Eastern, China Air and SriLankan Airlines.

SriLankan Airlines is rationalising its services to China in accordance with current market conditions as per its long-held commercial policies, with a temporary reduction of frequencies to several cities. This is to better reflect present passenger demand in the wake of a significant reduction in the number of Chinese travellers venturing overseas following the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus epidemic.

These measures add to the plight of the industry.

The spread of virus has hit all the industry stakeholders in a big way and there are many booking cancellations taking place. February is considered to be the best time for arrivals and the spread of the epidemic is a big blow to the sustainability of the industry. China is the second most important market in terms of tourist arrivals and this will have an adverse effect on growth targets.

Sri Lanka recorded 22,363 arrivals from China in Jan­uary compared to 26,414 arrivals in Jan­uary 2019. The tourism authorities are expecting around 14,000-15,000 drop in Chinese tourist arrivals in February. Sri Lanka attracted 23,759 Chinese tourists in February last year.

January to March is considered to be the peak season of Chinese tourist arrivals where millions of Chinese travel across the world during the Lunar New Year holiday.

We are working towards overcoming the situation and fervently hope that this epidemic will phase off within the shortest possible time to ensure the recovery of the industry to remain reachable.

This is the time that the local travellers could support us in a big way by patronising our products and services which will contribute towards income generation and functionality of hotel industry.

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Sri Lanka authorities on alert

Sri Lanka Tourism is keeping a close watch on the coronavirus situation and has taken steps to strengthen the detection and management at all arrival and departure points, said Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Chairperson Kirmali Fernando.

“Steps have taken to create awareness on the outbreak among stakeholders. The Tourism and Health Ministries are working closely to combat the spread of the coronavirus within all tourist hotspots in the country,” she said.

There has been only one identified case of a Chinese national who is under strict medical supervision and is recovering. The government is vigilant to ensure that the safety of all citizens and tourists alike.

“On Tuesday, we suspended the issuance of visa-on-arrival to Chinese tourists as a preventive measure to control the spread of the virus in the country. Chinese nationals have to submit their visa application while in China before arriving in Sri Lanka, and after carefully scrutinising the applicant’s province and other information, visa will be granted.

Meanwhile, measures have been put in place to ensure carriers of the coronavirus do not enter the country via the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) and 24-hour monitoring is conducted by the BIA staff equipped with body temperature screening machines to detect the virus with the assistance of the Health and Indigenous Medicine Services Ministry and Sri Lanka Army medical teams.

From Tuesday, a prohibition has been put in place for visitors from accompanying passengers inside the airport until further notice and a separate exit terminal has been set up at the BIA for passengers arriving from China,.

We request tourists arriving from China and the region to monitor their health for two weeks upon entering Sri Lanka and seek medical attention promptly if they have any symptoms.

According to Sri Lanka Tourism data, there has been a 40 percent drop in the number of tourist arrivals from China and a five percent slump in arrivals from other countries since January 24.

Sri Lanka Tourism anticipates a major drop in the number of arrivals from China, a major market for tourism in Sri Lanka.

Of its total outbound travel segment China accounts for around 350,000 arrivals to Sri Lanka each year. Around 150 million Chinese nationals had travelled overseas and around 330,000 to Sri Lanka in 2018, according to data.

SriLankan Airlines is rationalising its services to China in accordance with current market conditions as per its long-held commercial policies, with a temporary reduction of frequencies to several cities. This is to better reflect present passenger demand in the wake of a significant reduction in the number of Chinese travellers venturing overseas following the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus epidemic. - LF

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