Sri Lanka off-season tourism campaign draws over 1,000 bookings

ECONOMYNEXT – A campaign to boost off-season tourist traffic to Sri Lanka branded ‘Island Escapes’ launched in mid-September has drawin over a thousand bookings in three weeks, the island’s tourism minister said.

“We have got over 1,000 bookings,” John Amaratunga said told a business forum in Colombo on October 05.

The promotional campaign developed by the government with an investment of  65 million rupees was launched on September 15, and is expected to run until November.

Tourists arriving in Sri Lanka on average spend around 165 dollars per day.

The off-season tourism campaign is offering numerous budget packages, as low as 99 dollars per person for a three-night stay.

The packages were developed by the government in collaboration with some airlines, travel agencies and hotels.

In the peak December to March period, Sri Lanka got over 230,000 visitors a month.

But the island welcomed only 149,000 visitors in September up 2.8 percent, considered an off-season period.

The Tourism Ministry had said that the campaign, which features short videos on Sri Lanka and links to purchase the packagi
The campaign is mainly targetting Middle Eastern, Indian and Chinese tourist markets as well as Sri Lankans living abroad.

Depending on the success of the inaugural campaign currently underway, the government is expecting to run it annually, during the April to July and September to November off-peak seasons.

Visitors in April 2018 fell to 180,000 from 233,000 in March.  May visitors were down to 129,466.

It is not clear whether price floors in the capital Colombo prevented the market from naturally cutting prices to draw visitors. However if there is wider knowledge that off-peak prices are low more visitors may come.

The off-peaks loosely correspond to rainy periods. The peak corresponds to the Western winter season.

The government was hoping the campaign would help attract 2.5 million tourists in 2018, requiring a growth of 19 percent over the year from the 2.1 million arrivals in 2017.

For the first nine months of 2018, arrivals grew 11.6 percent to 1.7 million.

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