Dengue affected tourist arrivals – Minister

The negligible growth in tourist arrivals in August was a result of dengue advisories emanating from several missions in Colombo, Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said.

Tourism, Sri Lanka’s third largest foreign exchange earner, suffered a setback last month, growing by a mere 2.5% year-on-year (YoY) to 190,928, despite it being a peak month…… for tourism due to the Kandy Esala Perahera, which usually draws tourists in large numbers, especially from the UK and the Continent.

For instance, last year’s Esala Perahera season saw these numbers grow by 11.8% YoY to 186,288.

The Tourism Minister speaking to reporters yesterday attributed last month’s negligible growth to ‘dengue’ advisories emanating from their missions in Colombo warning the citizens of those markets from visiting the islands. “Even China has warned their citizens of dengue,” said Amaratunga.

China is Sri Lanka’s second largest tourism market. But the UK, Germany and France which are its third fourth and fifth largest markets currently, are the bigger spenders. Tourist arrivals from China dipped 3.7% YoY to 26,507 last month, UK, up 7% to 21,903; Germany, down 10.1% to 10,993 and France, down 0.7% to 10,730. However, India, Sri Lanka’s largest tourism market, saw numbers growing by 27.9% YoY to 31,220 last month. Overall, in the first eight months of the year, tourism numbers have grown by 3.5% YoY to 1,406,854.

Amaratunga however said that dengue was now under control. He was confident that tourism would pick up in the forthcoming winter season.

Meanwhile, AFP reported that the international tourist numbers grew 6.4 per cent in the first half of 2017, the strongest half-year figures in seven years.

The UN World Tourism Organization yesterday said the Mediterranean destinations post double-digit growth.

The number of international tourists surged to around 598 million between January and June, some 36 million more than during the same period last year, the Madrid-based United Nations body said in a statement.

Rising business confidence and strong outbound demand from major source markets such as Britain, China, France and the United States were behind the rise.

“The first half of 2017 shows healthy growth in an increasingly dynamic and resilient tourism market, including a strong recovery in some of the destinations impacted by security challenges last year,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.

Mediterranean destinations reported “particularly strong growth” in the first half of 2017, including those such as Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey, which suffered terrorist attacks in recent years, causing a slump in visitors, the organization said.

Southern and Mediterranean Europe saw a 12 per cent rise in international visitors, North Africa posted a 16 perent rise and the Middle East recorded an increase of 8.9 per cent.

Tourist arrivals overall in Europe, the world’s most-visited region, grew 7.7 per cent.

Africa saw a 7.6 per cent rise in visitor numbers, while Asia and the Pacific posted 5.7 per cent growth. International arrivals in the Americas were up 3.0 per cent in the first half of the year.

Growth was solid in South America, up by 6.0 per cent, while North America saw just 2.0 per cent growth as a decrease in arrivals in the United States offset robust results for Canada and Mexico.

In the whole of 2016, the number of international tourist arrivals grew by 3.9 per cent from the previous year to 1.23 billion and the UN body expects the figure to grow by three to four percent this year.

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