Revive tourism by removing airfare obstacles – Leisure sector expert | Sunday Observer

Revive tourism by removing airfare obstacles – Leisure sector expert

19 June, 2022

In 2019, ‘Lonely Planet’ named Sri Lanka the best country in the world to visit. This compliment, however, did not attract more tourists to Sri Lanka. Tourist arrivals are stagnating over the years with 2.5 Million at their peak in 2019, said Tourism expert and sociologist, Dr. Dietmar Doering.  

He said the recent calls by the Head of State and the Prime Minister to highlight and create more attractions in Sri Lanka and thereby trigger more interest in foreign tourists are commendable, but will unlikely achieve the desired results.

Researchers identified one of the major stumbling blocks to attracting more tourists to visit Sri Lanka is the substantial airfare differences between neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Maldives.

Sri Lanka over the decades had been sticking out for its highest airfare in the region, a clear disincentive not only for first-time travelers.  Even Airfares to Thailand, being 2.000 nautical miles away from Sri Lanka, had been offered way cheaper from different European Airports.

It is in the hands of the authorities to take steps enabling airlines to offer the cheapest Airfares. Now, since the national carrier re-started to service the EU–Sri Lanka route a good first step has been done. However, this good step should be accompanied by very competitive airfares.

The number of tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka jumped 1,917.8 percent year-on-year to 30,207 in May of 2022, as soaring vaccinations around the world and softer restrictions for vaccinated travellers, India was the largest source of tourist traffic to Sri Lanka with 18.4 percent of the total traffic, followed by the UK (12.3%), Russia (10.6%), Germany (7.3%), and Canada (6.7%). Visitors from Europe became the largest source of tourists to Sri Lanka with 48.8 percent of total arrivals in May, while those from Asia Pacific accounted for 33.3 percent.

On a monthly basis, the number of tourist arrivals plunged by almost 52%, due to the effects of the economic and political situation in Sri Lanka, and the gradual cessation of the peak season.

Sri Lanka Tourism has planned to hold promotional programs in India shortly to lure in visitors from the neighbour, a key MICE tourism and travel market for Sri Lanka which desperately needs foreign visitors to shove foreign exchange.

The industry stakeholders target between 800,000 to 850,000 visitors this year and revenue of around USD 800 million this year following promotional events in key markets.

Sri Lanka Tourism participated at SATTE Travel Fair which was held in Greater Noida, Delhi-NCR, India, from May 18-20, 2022, with 65 Sri Lankan travel and tourism companies.