First 9 months arrivals cross 1.1 m mark with 22.4% growth
2014 so far has seen 100,000 plus arrivals monthly except May; September arrivals up 17%
Arrivals from China near 100,000 milestone; at 95,000 up 141%
India leads with 171,000 arrivals, up 18%;Japanese arrivals up 27% to 29,703;Russians up 60% to 47,646
Strong growth from Germany and France as UK lags
Earnings from tourism up 32% to $ 1.44 b up to end August
The post-war rebound in tourism continues to sustain the momentum as arrivals in the first nine months have reflected a healthy 22.45% growth, crossing the 1.1 million mark. The country saw 105,535 tourists in September, up by 17%, bringing the January to September figure to 1,107,178, up by 22.4% from the corresponding period of last year.
As per Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority sources, eight of the nine months (except May) have produced over 100,000 tourist arrivals in 2014, which tourist industry analysts described as an unprecedented development largely owning to the peaceful setting in the country. The Central Bank last week revealed that the country earned $ 1.44 billion from tourism in the first eight months of this year, up by 32% from a year ago.
India continues to lead as the biggest source market, bringing in 170,671 tourists, up by 18% in the first nine months, whilst in September it was up 4.6% to 19,244. September arrivals from India recorded a rebound in comparison to a year-on-year dip of 5.7% in August to 18,912. Last year arrivals from India grew by 18.4% to 208,795.
An emerging market for Sri Lanka as well as the world, China continued to show rapid growth. Arrivals from China neared the magical 100,000 mark, with the end September tally amounting to 94,994, a growth of 141%. September saw 13,312 Chinese tourists arriving in Sri Lanka. This however was lower compared to 14,272 arrivals in August and a record 15,178 in July.
However, arrivals from China are at an all-time record, having overtaken the 2013 full year figure of 54,288, making the Far East Asian giant Sri Lanka’s third biggest market.
Once the biggest source market, the UK remained sluggish with off-season September seeing a decline of 4% to 6,996 arrivals although the end September haul of 107,330 reflected 4.5% growth. There were 137,416 tourists from UK in 2013, reflecting a 20.3% growth over 2012. Arrivals from Japan are showing strong growth, up 27% to 29,703 in the first nine months; whilst September saw a 15.7% growth to near 4,000, though lower from 5,233 in August. Arrivals from Japan are likely to hit a new record in 2014. Last year there were 31,505 Japanese tourists in Sri Lanka, up by 21% from 2012.
Russia, now the seventh largest source market for Sri Lanka, produced 47,646 arrivals, up 60%, in the first nine months. However, in September Russian arrivals were down by 8% to 3,000. Region-wise, Western Europe still leads with 355,164 arrivals up to September, reflecting 14% growth. Arrivals from Germany were up 22% to 75,133, French arrivals up 27% to 61,778 and arrivals from the Netherlands up 8% to 18,861. Overall there were 28,234 Western European tourists who arrived in September, up by 6.5%.
South Asia remained the second largest source region, with arrivals up 16% to 258,357, whilst East Asia, thanks to high growth from China and Japan, is up 52% to 207,214. Eastern Europe saw 107,000 of its nationals visiting Sri Lanka in the first nine months, up by 38% from a year earlier. Arrivals from Australia and New Zealand grew by 8.4% to 44,000, with Australia accounting for 39,000, up by 7.6%. Middle East tourist arrivals grew by 16.7% to 71,713 in the first nine months whilst September produced 8,300 tourists from the Gulf, up by 35% from the corresponding month of last year. Arrivals from North America rose by 11.5% to 52,622, with the market equally shared by the US and Canada.