Sri Lanka Back on Track and Welcoming Returning Tourists
(Sri Lanka, September 8, 2022) The economic crisis in Sri Lanka hammered the tourism industry, on the back of the COVID shutdown. Fortunately, the country is now back on track with political stability and looking forward to a good winter season.
Sri Lanka may be a small island, but it packs in a continent’s worth of attractions, with eight World Heritage sites, all within a few hours of each other. The Ceylon tea highlands, the Cultural Triangle; a cradle of an ancient Buddhist Civilisation, and probably the best wildlife parks outside Africa with leopards, elephants, bears, and blue whales offshore. Not forgetting tropical sandy beaches, surfing, and Ceylon Blue Sapphires, which adorned the crowns of royalty for centuries.
(Asian Journeys' file photo)
Malik J Fernando, Managing Director, Resplendent Ceylon answers questions about what tourists could expect when the visit the island nation.
What is the situation like on the ground?
Since the unrest and serious shortages of a couple of months ago, stability has returned, and economic recovery plans are underway, led by the new President. A stabilisation plan was agreed to with the International Monetary Fund last week. Travel advisories from key markets have been relaxed.
What impact is the country's economic crisis having on tourists? Will a tourist experience be impacted in any way?
A tourist can experience a normal holiday. All sites are open and not busy so it can be a better experience than usual! The devaluation of the local currency means extra value for money.
What should tourists be aware of if they are travelling?
Tourists were never at risk amongst warm and hospitable Sri Lankans although the headlines seemed worrying. Resplendent Ceylon & other hotels operated normally throughout. The fuel situation is much improved; hotels and travel agents have had preferential access. An important aspect is that visiting Sri Lanka plays a vital role in our economic revival. And you will be engulfed with genuine warmth!
(Asian Journeys' file photo)
How damaging has a drop in tourism been for the country?
The growth in tourism over the past few years uplifted communities across the country. 15% of the population relies on the industry. The loss of tourism income on the back of major cost of living increases has been devastating. Drivers, guides, and local vendors have been the worst affected. A decent winter will help them get back on their feet.
How has hotel occupancy been?
August is usually high season with the summer holidays. This year occupancies have been awful at 10-20%. With the lifting of the advisories, bookings have started picking up.
Why is it more important than ever that tourists visit now?
Tourism brings in foreign currency which Sri Lanka is short of. It results in rapid distribution of benefits to all levels of rural communities - hotel staff, local vendors, guides, drivers. Foreign visitors can enjoy a perfectly normal, memorable holiday whilst making a critical contribution to our recovery.
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