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Seriously...it's time to get real

Back in late July this year, the Chairman of SLTDA expressed confidence that Sri Lanka will close 2022 with a near one million visitors. He said that they expected to see an increase in the number of arrivals to at least 60,000 in August; basing his projections on the rising trajectory seen between June’s 32,000+ arrivals and July’s 45,000+ total arrivals, respectively.


Furthermore, he added “We are confident that we will be able to counter most of the negative publicity and get the tourists back for the season starting in November.”


However, the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) showed less optimism. Pointing out that recent numbers do not depict the real demography of arrivals and that they are, in the majority, members of the diaspora that have come into Sri Lanka - and there haven’t been many tourists. 


An Executive Member of SLAITO went as far as to say that even August, which usually recorded large numbers, may not be as successful this year. His prophecy proved right – with August 2022 recording abysmal 37,760.total arrivals. Unfortunately, the SLTDA Chairman’s projection of 60 – 65,000 visitors for August was way off the mark.


The Tourism Board monthly report for August 2020 puts down the drop in numbers to the “effects of the current economic and political situation in Sri Lanka, and the gradual cessation of the peak travel season”. Begs the question – was no one aware of this in July? Bad publicity in India was also another reason it appears.


September 2022 arrivals during the first ten days of the month, totaling 10,796 does not bode well. This averages less than 1000 arrivals per day and the likelihood of a total 30,000 arrivals for the month is the best possible outcome.


Now, Almost halfway into September, the SLTDA chairman continues to express confidence by stating that “Sri Lanka *could achieve its set target of one million tourists whilst earning over $ 1.75 billion by year-end.”


The two leading industry bodies – the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) and The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL), probably more aware of the ‘ground situation’, were more circumspect, saying, that despite the daunting task ahead, they hope the upcoming winter season will operate with some semblance of normalcy and that bookings in the formal sector look reasonably healthy.


Instead of seeking to arouse the gallery, it is prudent to draw inspiration from the strength of the available substance and the logic of reasonable delivery.


One thing where everyone appears to be on the same page is that ‘tourism is the ‘lowest hanging fruit’ as it were, to bring in the much needed foreign exchange to the country.” That been the case they all need to time their jumps together.


*(Note: not will as expressed earlier in July),


Ilzaf Keefahs is a freelance writer who enjoys focusing on hospitality related matters that he is passionate about, and likes to share his views with hoteliers and customers alike. He delves into the heart of hospitality to figure out both customer service and consumer trends that impact the industry.




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