ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 38

Black January for tourism

By Malik Gunatilleke

Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka in January dropped by almost 50 per cent in comparison to the corresponding month in 2006, the Tourist Hoteliers Association of Sri Lanka. (THASL) said. Despite an estimated 10,000 people arriving in Sri Lanka for a religious function of the Borah community in January, only 27,000 arrivals were recorded in January 2007 as opposed to 52,103 arrivals in January 2006, recording a drop of 48% in arrivals, it said.

The drop in tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka began in September 2006, after many European countries restricted travel to Sri Lanka and issued travel warnings for travellers coming to Sri Lanka, THASL said.

This caused an 18% drop in tourist arrivals from September to December in comparison with the corresponding period of 2005, it reported.

Cyprea Lanka Ltd which owned the Kani Lanka 150-room resort in Kalutara, has decided to pull out its operations in Sri Lanka due to heavy losses and debt.The hotel reported losses of nearly US $2.7 million after spending nearly US$ 3 million on renovations after the tsunami struck the hotel in 2004. However, Tourist Board Director General S. Kaleiselvam told The Sunday Times that the Government along with the national airline, SriLankan, was working towards promoting tourism in Britain, India and China.

“We have already begun our media campaign in Britain and after the cricket team went to India we began our campaign in India as well,” he said.

Mr. Kaleiselvam said China would be the next target for promoting Sri Lanka as a safe travel destination.

Despite the reduced traffic, the tourism industry has maintained its position as the fourth largest foreign exchange earner for Sri Lanka.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.