Tourism income tops US$2.5 bn, $3.5bn projected

By Shirajiv Sirimane – shirajivs@gmail.com

Sri Lankan Tourism has earned a record revenue in the excess of US $2.5 billion up to the end of September.

Speaking to Daily News Business, Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism, Paddy Withana said that they are targeting an all-time record of US $ 3.5 billion for 2016. He said that in addition they are also targeting a record 2.2 million arrivals by the end of 2016.

Withana a professional hotelier with over 30 years in the industry said that due to various tourist ‘spots’ being opened up in the North East, Deep South, today the ‘average room night stay’ too have increased to almost 11 nights per stay.

The country also maintained a high occupancy levels for 2016 and will end the year with around 77%. Last year this figure stood as 74%. He also predicted that the industry would collect around Rs. 2.2 billion from CESS for 2016.

The Chairman said that tourism today is on an upward trend and one of the key drivers for the Tourism growth was the peace dividend in Sri Lanka. “I must also add that the volatile situation in some of the popular tourist destinations especially in Europe i too has helped Sri Lanka to attract additional tourists.”

“This is also the reason why big global players like, Hyatt, Movenpick, Shangri La, OZO, Anantara, Dusit Thani, and several others have opened up in Sri Lanka.”

“In addition existing hotels are adding capacity while several local players too have entered the industry which is very encouraging. “Today we have 33,000 star class rooms and these will significantly increase after opening of several new hotels next year.”

Withana said that job creation too has increased and today tourism is a major contributor to the GDP. “One of the advantages of the industry is that the benefits as well as revenue trickles down to the grass route levels and dependents form the industry too have increased.”

He also said that the Port City project would have a major positive impact for the Tourism industry. “The proposed Marina, shopping complexes, apartments and recreation facilities would not only bring huge foreign direct investments but also additional tourists.”

Withana said that the pulling out of SriLankan airlines form Europe and the airport closure for three months would have a negative impact for the industry. “But this is short term and the runway repair is a crying need to stop a ‘would be’ airline disaster.”

Commenting on the World tourism market (WTM) next month in London he said that it is a very important event since they would be able to aggressively market Sri Lanka not only in London but in the entire Europe. “For the first time we are also to conduct three road shows in London to promote Sri Lanka Tourism,” Withana added.

Source: DAILY NEWS

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