Sri Lanka’s fast-growing tourism economy is preparing for a further windfall next year with the nation will co-host the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup. The island nation predicts it will receive more than 725,000 tourism arrivals, the second highest number in South Asia after India.
This would place Sri Lanka ahead of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives. Currently the Maldives attracts around 600,000 and Sri Lanka passed this mark last week.
Sri Lanka Tourism Director General S. Kaleiselvam said that as well as a record number of arrivals this year, the industry has also generated $480 million in revenue.
“This is over a 40 percent increase as against the previous year,” he said.
He said that next year Sri Lanka is expected to exceed $560 million in revenue. The previous highest revenue target was achieved in 2006 when it generated $410 million.
Kaleiselvam also says that the proposed ferry service between Sri Lanka and India would also boost arrivals as southern India’s burgeoning middle class take up the new opportunities to travel. “In addition many Sri Lankans too would use this service and there would be an overall increase of traffic both ways,” he said.
Sri Lanka’s tourism economy has bounced back so rapidly from the civil war in 2009 that the island is expected to shortly run out of hotel capacity as it experiences an unprecedented boom.
Dilip Mudadeniya, Director General Marketing, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, said that this healthy trend would continue in the future too. “This positive sentiment is due to peace and the removal of travel advisories and we expect this healthy trend to continue,” he said.
But according to Ajit Gunawardene, chief executive of John Keells, Sri Lanka’s largest hotel group, if the tourism economy continues to grow at such rates there will be an occupancy shortage within two years.
Sri Lanka’s tourist infrastructure can handle up to 800,000 visitors a year, comfortably meeting expected demand this year of 500,000.
However within the next two years, visitors arrivals are expected to double and then double again two years later to 2 million. He suggests that unless the country embarks on a hotel construction boom it will fail to meet demand.
“This gives you an indication of the type of momentum we want to maintain,” Mr Gunawardene said.
He said John Keells had begun renovating hotels and building more to meet the tourism boom.
More airlines are also expected to fly to Sri Lanka next year, while those already serving Colombo plan to increase their frequencies.
The local airlines, SriLankan and Mihin, also plan to add more destinations. This will also be a boost to tourist traffic.
Ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup, World Mobi has launched its new guide to the capital Colombo, where a number of matches will be played.
Colombo.Mobi is the latest in this illustrious line up of city guides, with over 800 cities in 200 countries listed. Each is developed by the World Mobi team to combine into a single global travel directory.
The guide offers click to call functionality – which means no scribbling down telephone numbers.
Most entries are also linked to websites where users can quickly access more detailed information if needed.
Other key features include information on accommodation, restaurants, attractions, entertainment, nightlife, shopping, and transport.
World.Mobi guides include user reviews and traveller utilities such as a translation guide, currency converter, news and local weather guide.