Business Times

Tourism expectations drop amidst no promotions, adverse publicity

By Sunimalee Dias

In the wake of lack of promotion and global economic setbacks, the tourism industry believes that the recent adverse publicity has also affected arrivals to the country. While expectations were a lot better, it was pointed out that there are always two sides to a story and most are beginning to realize the Channel 4 news is a fabrication, Jetwing Chairman Hiran Cooray told the Business Times.

He noted that however, the upcoming winter season is likely to be good although it will not be a “sell-out.” With certain hoteliers raising the price tags for tourists, it is noted that there needs to be a relative increase in quality coupled with the price increases.

City Hoteliers Association President Shanthi Kumar observed that while expectations for the Perahera season in Kandy were at 25%, arrivals increased by only 10-15%. He pointed out that this is mainly due to the lack of promotion and noted with enthusiasm the government’s decision to commence a much needed promotional campaign.

Winter projections stand at least 20-25% this year while it is noted that the industry is now eyeing more boutique hotels in the pipeline along Marine Drive, Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha and Colombo 3.
In July, the tourism industry recorded a 32.3% increase compared to the previous year. Arrivals in the first seven months of 2011 jumped 36.1% to 465,324, compared to the same period a year ago.

Tourist Hoteliers Association President Anura Lokuhetty notes that Sri Lanka is having the lowest number of arrivals compared to its competitors in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Cambodia.
But it is projected that the country’s tourism industry revenue is expected to top US$3 billion by 2016 targetting 2.5 million tourists and doubling that by 2020. An exponential growth in 2012/13 and 2014/15 is also expected to continue as the construction of hotels takes place.

Further, Mr. Lokuhetty states that there is a possibility that by 2016 the tourism industry is likely to become the second highest revenue generating sector to the economy from its currently fourth position.

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