Tourism sector eyes $ 7 b earnings by 2020

  • Plans to employ 600,000 and increasing women workforce by 10% by 2020
  • Daily tourist spend increases to $ 168, expects to reach $ 210 
  • Despite challenges, Minister confident of achieving 2.5m tourist arrivals 

Tourism officials yesterday said the three-year ambitious Tourism Strategic Plan strives to be Sri Lanka’s top net foreign exchange earner, with a target of $ 7 billion in earnings in 2020.

Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Director General Malraj Kiriella said the vision is to be recognised as the world’s finest island for memorable, authentic and diverse experiences.

Noting that the Tourism Strategic Plan 2017-2020 included several high level objectives, he stressed that the tourism industry and its supporting industries would employ 600,000 Sri Lankans, with plans to increase the women workforce by 10%.

Last year earnings from the tourism industry accounted to over $3.5 billion with an annual occupancy rate (tourist hotels) of 71.29%. The sector has also created around 155,096 direct and 201,195 indirect jobs.

In addition Kiriella said they expected to increase daily spending per visitor to $ 210 by 2020. He said the daily spending of a tourist has gone up from $ 90 during the war to $ 168 at present.

Sri Lanka’s top 10 markets at present are India, China, UK, Germany, France, Australia, Maldives, Russia, US and Netherlands. However, China and Maldives are showing negative growth rate compared to the previous year.

Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga expressed confidence in recording 2.5 million tourist arrivals by the year end, despite all obstacles the industry has faced thus far during the year.

Admitting that tourism officials have been unable to rollout an effective promotional campaign in years due to various reasons, he assured that by the end of the year they would commence the much-awaited campaigns.

Amaratunga also claimed that the shortcomings in National Carrier SriLankan Airlines and withdrawing of flight schedules from destinations that benefitted the tourism industry for years had affected the sector.

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