Relaxing travel bans, a fillip for winter season – SLAITO Past President | Sunday Observer

Relaxing travel bans, a fillip for winter season – SLAITO Past President

28 August, 2022
Mahen Kariyawasan
Mahen Kariyawasan

The series of promotional drives to promote the destination will augur well for the tourism industry with travel advisories being relaxed gradually, said Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) Immediate Past President Mahen Kariyawasan said.

He said the industry has the potential to get back to what it was before the Easter Sunday attacks and the global pandemic to contribute its share to the economy.

Sri Lanka tourism targets almost one million arrivals this year which looks an uphill task given the low arrivals figures in recent months.

The number of arrivals to the country during first three weeks of August crossed the 30,000 mark but was below the previous month’s arrivals of 47,293 according to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.

According to forecasts it is unlikely that arrivals this month will surpass last month’s due to the fuel scarcity limiting travel.

Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority data revealed around 31,105 foreign visitors arrived from August 1-23 bringing the total number of visitors to the country this year up to August 23, to 489,775, bringing the average per day arrivals to around 1,350.  

The economic crisis triggered a severe shortage of essentials including fuel, food and medicine while impeding industrial sustenance due to regular power cuts.

However, SLAITO sees a sliver line amid the gloom and doom for the industry, a key component of the economy. The travel and leisure sector is a major contributor to the earning of the much needed foreign exchange.

“We are expecting a fairly good winter holiday season this year and better arrival numbers next year with the situation in the country improving and all travel restrictions being relaxed,” Kariyawasan said.

The winter season spans from November to April during which tourists from the West travel to the East for holidays.

Switzerland, France and the UK relaxed the travel warnings on Sri Lanka recently conveying positive vibes to the travel community. However, certain key markets in Europe are yet to lift the advisories.

SLAITO welcomed the decision by the Swiss and French governments to relax the advisories as both countries are key markets for Sri Lanka.

“We welcome the decision by the two countries at a time the industry desperately needs visitors for revival and shore up its fast depleting foreign reserves, Kariyawasan said, adding that getting rid of bottlenecks is crucial to woo in travellers who look forward to a memorable stay.

Sri Lanka Tourism plans to hold road shows in India next month and invite around 500 agents representing the Travel Agents Association of India in November.

India has been a key market for Sri Lanka tourism and was among the top three markets for arrivals this month with Germany and the UK. India accounted for 4,262, UK 5,872 and Germany 2,779 arrivals in August.

SLAITO will attend the TFTM French travel mart next month and the World Travel Mart in London in November.

Sri Lanka’s travel and leisure sector presence at global promotional events is vital to position the country in the global travel map and promote its diversity, Kariyawasan said.