Sri Lanka has seen the highest tourist arrivals growth post-COVID in November with 44,294 arrivals, pushing the cumulative figure to 104,989.
Tourist arrivals in November recorded a sharp increase of 95% from October, continuing its growth momentum from June, whilst also narrowing down the from 99.3% in January to 79.3% in November.
“The November numbers reflect the improvement in international arrivals potentially owing to factors such as vaccination advances around the world, softer restrictions for vaccinated travellers, use of digital tools to facilitate safe travel, such as the European Union (EU) COVID Certificate, and growing consumer confidence in some outbound source markets,” Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) said.
In November, the largest source markets recorded for the month of November were India (14,236), the UK (3,770), Russia (3,520), Germany (2,667) and Pakistan (2,612).
From January to November, India became the largest source of tourists to Sri Lanka with 32,702 in the first 11 months, followed by the UK with 8,153, Germany 6,567, Russia 6,101 and France 3,528.
Asia and the Pacific became the largest source region with 50,566 travellers of the total traffic received in the first 11 months, whilst Europe and the Americas accounted for 44,792 and 31,843 tourists, respectively.
Asia and the Pacific became the largest source of tourist traffic to Sri Lanka with 49% of the total traffic received, whilst Europe accounted for 42% and Americas 6%.
Sri Lanka lost around $ 10 billion in foreign exchange earnings, which generate $ 4.5 billion annually, due to the pandemic since last year. The COVID-19 pandemic has raged from March 2020 onwards and the latest drop in arrivals reinforce the continuous struggles of the tourism industry.
Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said they expect around 150,000 to 180,000 tourists by the end of the year, but given the emergence of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, it was difficult to be certain if it can be achieved.
Industry experts said except for few cancellations from the African region, there were no major cancellations due to the concerns of the fast-spreading Omicron variant.
“Various accolades received highlighting Sri Lanka tourism in mainstream media could have had some effect in boosting interest in Sri Lanka. However, destination marketing is cumulative and this recent PR will need to be followed up to have any lasting impact,” the SLTDA said.