Tourism industry experiences 34% growth in Tourism earnings in 2006
Sri Lanka's tourism industry recorded an increase of 33.9% in earnings last year compared to 2005, according to the Economic Affairs Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The industry earnings in 2006 were recorded as US$ 440.9 million whereas earnings in 2005 were US$ 329.2 million. However, Director General , Sri Lanka Tourist Board (SLTB) said statistics such as these which sound promising do not take into the increased cost of living, shopping and entertainment.
In terms of arrivals, there was a 1.9% increase in 2006 over 2005 according to Kalaiselvam. "Foreign earnings compiled by the Central Bank show that approximately US$ 430 million in foreign earnings is an increase. More Indians are coming here and they are shopping. This is why foreign earnings are up." Moreover, Kalaiselvam said that entertainment expenses and shopping have sharply increased.
The outlook for January 2007 is 'very very good' according to Kalaiselvam. "It is good because of the borah community here. They are going to restaurants and shopping." However, the overall outlook for the tourism industry here in Sri Lanka is still ambivalent since most European countries and the United States have in place travel advisories. "It all depends on the travel advisories. They have to be relaxed. We speak to their counterparts which are the embassies here," Kalaiselvam said. "We provide them with the information but in the end, it is up to them."
Statistics on tourism compiled by the SLTB show that since September 2006, there has been a steady decline in the number of tourist arrivals over the previous year. In fact, December 2006 shows a 23.3% decrease in tourist arrivals over the corresponding period in 2005, declining from 51,171 to 39,224.