Lanka targets USD 4 Bn from tourism in 2023 | Sunday Observer

Lanka targets USD 4 Bn from tourism in 2023

15 March, 2023

Sri Lanka is looking to target USD four billion revenue from the tourism industry this year, Minister of Lands and Tourism, Harin Fernando said.

He told Daily News business during the sidelines of the MICE EXPO, organized by the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau and Sri Lankan Airlines, which began at Shangri – La yesterday and ending today that the country has already earned around USD 330 million plus from tourism receipts in the first two months of 2023. This is by attracting over 200,000 arrivals. The Minister said that this positive trend is expected to continue and accordingly Sri Lana can look at getting around USD 4 billion from tourism receipts this year. He said that Sri Lanka is now going for the ‘tourism off season’ and to fill the void of European tourists Sri Lanka is now looking at the large India and Chinese market.

“India has always been a lucrative market for Sri Lanka remaining as the top three feeders to the Lanka tourism sector and also to the MICE segment.”

Due to the COVID pandemic China saw a lockdown and this has now been opened again and a high number of arrivals are expected.

“To accommodate their growing arrivals China Eastern Airlines has increased frequency while SriLankan has also resumed their flights to China.” He however said that while the whole of Sri Lanka encourages the development of tourism, few politically motivated protesters are trying to drive away the tourists by organizing protests.

“The current tax structure was introduced to breach the budget deficit and use that money to look after the vulnerable people who are increasing due to the economic downturn which was created two years ago.The tax structure will affect only less than 20% of the population but I can’t understand why segments that are not affected want to protest.”

Today we don’t see long queues for gas, fuel and other essentials and there are also no power cuts. Sri Lanka’s present positive sentiments will further improve with the receipt of the first tranche from the IMF this month. What I say is that this government must be given another six to 8 months to continue like this and then look at elections and other issues.”

While thanking the organizers for hosting the MICE expo he said that operators and stakeholders from across the world who were participating in it helped Sri Lanka to be positioned as an ideal destination for MICE tourism. Sri Lanka Association of Professional Conference, Exhibition and Event Organisers President Imran Hassan said that this may be the first time in the world where buyers especially from India are invited and are seated while the vendors go to them.”

“Sri Lanka Tourism to work with Maldives  for promoting both destinations”

Minister of Lands and Tourism, Harin Fernando said that they are hoping to work with the Maldives to jointly promote both destinations for Tourism.

He said that he is looking at working closely with the Maldives Tourism sector and promoting a special package where tourists will visit both countries and enjoy two diversified tourism products the two countries have to offer.

“The high air connectivity between the two countries and similar on arrival visa regulations would be a major plus point to market both these destinations in one package.”

The Minister also said that he was misquoted from a speech he made for 30 minutes at the recently concluded ITB Berlin where he commenced on Maldivian tourism. “We are neighbors and have been two friendly counties for several decades and if my comments did hurt Maldivians I apologize for it.” (SS)