Sri Lanka’s tourist industry is poised to become a vibrant industry with the next winter season prospects looking bright. It is anticipated that the number of tourist arrivals would exceed 450,000 by the end of the year, Tourist Hotels Association Sri Lanka, President, Srilal Miththapala told Daily News Business.
The number of arrivals increased every month after the war ended and it has already offset the 11 percent decrease recorded last year. “There was a rapid increase in tourist arrivals after the war ended where steady monthly increases were recorded. This indicates that tourism is a fast re-bouncing industry”, he said.
The room occupancy has increased from 40 percent – 60 percent and the beach hotels in particular are doing well. The winter season is looking good with an increased number of bookings. The tourism industry is progressing steadily, he said.
The Tourism Promotion Bureau has drawn up a comprehensive plan to promote Sri Lanka. For the first time, the country will be advertised on channels such as CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera and Discovery.
The programs will be telecast up to mid December immediately after the news and this would provide wide publicity to attract tourists to the country. There would also be a country specific promotion program targeting tourists from India, UK, France and Germany from early next year, he said.
Travel journalists will be invited from targeted countries to showcase Sri Lanka. There will also be a calendar of events for specific promotions such as family festival in Negombo, Vesak and Poson promotion campaigns and reality shows. In addition, modern technology – facebook and blogs would be used to attract tourists. A blogging competition is also on the cards. This will be a multi-pronged strategy, he said.
The increased room rates will be effective from next year as bookings for this year have been already completed. With the anticipated number of tourist arrivals the country could earn more foreign exchange, he said.
The beach resorts in Negombo, Bentota, Beruwela and city hotels are recording improved performances whereas hotels in Kandy and Dambulla are lagging behind. The high-end hotels are doing well, he said.
“We need to refurbish our hotels. For this we need Government support in the short term. We also need to improve our transport facilities that are used for tourist transportation. The infrastructure development is at satisfactory level and it has a positive impact on the tourist industry”, Miththapala said.