Still Number 1 On Lonely Planet

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, a major income generator is limping back to normalcy.

Kishu Gomes, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau told a press conference on July 24, that the number of tourist arrivals has been averaging 4500 in the last five to ten days.

The industry was one of the worst hit, suffering mass cancellations following the April 21, Easter Sunday bombings, which targeted  three Christian churches and three Colombo based luxury hotels.  Amongst the 250 killed were 45 foreigners.

This week the government decided to re-introduce its no visa fee programme which it had brought in earlier in the year, for tourists from Australia, the United States, UK and the European Union etc.  The programme was expanded this week to include India and China.

The number of tourists had dropped from 166,975 in April this year, to 37,800 in May.  Last year, the country welcomed a record breaking 2.33 million tourists.

With tourist cancellations in May and June, many employed in the tourist industry saw their incomes drop, while others were laid off.  There is hope that the winter months, a peak season for the tourism industry, would result in better incomes for all and also boost the country’s economy.

At the time the bombings occurred, Sri Lanka had been named the best travel destination by the Lonely Planet travel guide.  The ranking still remains.

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