THE UK market to Sri Lanka has seen an 18 per cent year-on-year jump in the first quarter of this year, which is anticipated to grow further following the return of British Airways last month (TTG Asia e-Daily, August 14, 2012).
The UK had been the top source market for Sri Lanka before it was upstaged by India a few years ago.
According to statistics from Sri Lanka Tourism released in early May, total arrivals to Sri Lanka from January to March grew 10.9 per cent year-on-year to 288,798, with the main markets being India, the UK, Germany, France and the Maldives.
The overall European market is also showing signs of recovery, industry officials said.
“The UK market is doing well, but I didn’t realise the rate of increase (was so high), which is good. This could also be due to many expatriate Sri Lankan Tamils who carry British passports and travel here to see their relatives,” noted Hiran Cooray, chairman, Jetwing Hotels.
However, other sources noted that British travellers were choosing to stay in cheaper accommodation.
Indian arrivals, on the other hand, recorded negative four per cent growth in 1Q2013 due to attacks on Sri Lankan pilgrims in Tamil-dominated Southern India (TTG Asia e-Daily, March 20, 2013), in turn triggering fears of reciprocal attacks in Sri Lanka for Indian travellers, although fears have not materialised.
Ahintha Amerasinghe, managing director, Worldlink Travels, said there were general expectations that the situation would improve regarding Indian visitors. “This is a huge market for us and hopes of a revival are high,” he said. A sizable number of Indian visitors include traders from the south who stay for two to three nights for business.