By Charumini de Silva
Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals fell by 52% in May in comparison to April, recording the lowest inflow for the year so far, shattering industry hopes for a robust post-pandemic upturn.
The provisional data by Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), shows a total of 30,207 tourists arrived in May, largely due to political and social unrest.
With latest data, year-to-date (YTD) tourist arrivals amounted to 378,521 — a development thanks to the relatively peaceful period of January to March. Already the industry has seen the surpassing of 2021 full year arrivals of 194,495 and
expectations were for a quick rebound in 2022.
The provisional data showed that the daily average arrivals have dropped significantly to 974 in May. The daily average arrivals in March were as high as over 3,600 and it dropped to 2,099 by the end of April.
However, the industry experts pointed out that the downward arrivals triggered from April, as a result of the Government declaring a State of emergency following the protest in Mirihana, which subsequently drew public to street from countrywide, demanding the administration to step down amidst worsening economic conditions post-independence.
Thereafter, following 9 May violence reported countrywide led to further drag the numbers downwards.
As per SLTDA, the first week of May saw 9,493 tourists, and the arrivals trend dropped sharply up in the second and third weeks to 6,009 and 5,600 respectively following 9 May violence countrywide. However, with the political stability seen following the appointment of a new Prime Minister and Cabinet of Ministers, last week of the month saw a rebound in arrivals with 9,105 tourists.
In May, India topped the tourist traffic to Sri Lanka with 5,562, followed by the UK with 3,722, Russia with 3,202, Germany with 2,208 and Canada with 2,013. In addition, tourists were also received from Australia, US, France, Maldives, and Spain.
India also stood strong as the top tourist source market for Sri Lanka YTD with cumulative number of arrivals at 61,951, followed by UK 46,253, Russia with 44,793, Germany 30,976, France 20,167, Ukraine 13,705, Poland 12,409, Australia 12,029, Canada 10,709, and US 10,038.
Industry also feared that the numbers would further be reduced with several airlines having decided to reduce the frequencies they operate into Colombo.
The National carrier — SriLankan Airlines was the top airline contributing 11,440 tourists in May, followed by Qatar Airways 5,568, Emirates 3,416, Aeroflot 2,619 and SpiceJet 1,224, SLTDA data showed.