Tourist arrivals in Colombo to drop by 50pc after bombings, says Sri Lanka tourism chief

A SriLanka jet takes off as an Emirates Airbus A380 aircraft sits on the tarmac at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake on June 26, 2015. ― AFP pic
A SriLanka jet takes off as an Emirates Airbus A380 aircraft sits on the tarmac at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake on June 26, 2015. ― AFP pic

DUBAI, April 29 — Tourist arrivals in Colombo will fall by 50 per cent over the next two months following the Easter Sunday bombings that killed more than 250 people, Sri Lanka’s Tourism Bureau Chairman Kishu Gomes predicted today.

Tourist arrivals in areas outside Colombo are likely to fall by about 30 per cent as a result of the attacks, Gomes told reporters at a travel conference in Dubai.

Sri Lanka was facing lost tourism revenues of about US$750 million (RM3.1 billion) this year, he told Reuters.

SriLankan Airlines’ chief executive Vipula Gunatilleka told Reuters that the carrier had a 10 per cent increase in cancellations last week and expects that number to rise.

A collapse in tourism following the attacks on churches and hotels would deal a severe blow to the island’s economy and financial markets, and potentially force it to seek further assistance from the International Monetary Fund.

Tourism was Sri Lanka’s third largest and fastest growing source of foreign currency last year, after private remittances and textile and garment exports, accounting for almost US$4.4 billion or 4.9 per cent of gross domestic product in 2018.

Gomes said the tourism bureau had targeted 2.5 million visitors in 2019.

“We will probably reach about two million,” Gomes told reporters. “We are looking at providing some concessions to the industry for them to be able to maintain their viability for the next few months.”

Gomes said confidence could return if the military is able to give assurances on security.

“If the military can come out over the next few days and make a strong statement with respect to security that’s when we will obviously offer a bit of confidence and try and work against that anticipation,” the tourism chief said. — Reuters