- Harin attributes drop to political, economic instability
- Notes 10,000 daily arrivals in the past
- In discussion with envoys to relax advisories
- Plans to launch on-arrival visas
By Imsh Ranasinghe
Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals have dropped to 900 per day in the month of May due to the country’s political and economic instability, stated Tourism Minister Harin Fernando.
In an interview with Indian media channel WION last Saturday (28), Fernando said that tourism numbers are “really shocking” as travel advisories put out by countries due to political and economic instability have started to impact Sri Lanka.
“Only 900 tourists come to Sri Lanka per day, whereas we used to have around 10,000 or more coming in a day,” he added.
The Minister said that even during the economic crisis, there were about 4,000 tourists coming to Sri Lanka per day. March recorded the highest monthly arrival of 106,500 tourists to Sri Lanka since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
“So we think we still have hope,” he said, adding that the emergency regulations and the shoot-on-sight orders by the Police didn’t go well for the tourism industry.
In April, the numbers fell to 62,980 tourist arrivals for the month, with a daily average of just above 2,000 arrivals per day.
The Minister stated he had held discussions with various ambassadors recently to urge them to relax the travel advisories against Sri Lanka; however, he also said that it was the ambassadors’ priority to think of the safety of their citizens visiting Sri Lanka.
Fernando had said: “We say there is no medicine, no essential items, no fuel, no gas, and no electricity, who would come to Sri Lanka?”
Further, he said that the ministry has planned to launch road shows in India, which is one of the biggest markets for Sri Lanka, to promote Sri Lanka as a tourism destination in the next three weeks with the help of the Sri Lankan cricketers.
Also, he noted that the ministry is working on relaxing restrictions on visas for visitors from Sri Lanka’s top tourist markets, and providing them with on-arrival visa facilities.
“Things will be cheaper in the high-end market – rooms at $ 600 will come down – and people will actually embrace them because we are waiting for tourists to come into our country again,” Fernando said, indicating that tourists will be able to enjoy cheaper trips to Sri Lanka in the coming months.