Sri Lanka

Crisis-hit Sri Lanka counts on India to revive tourism, top hotel chains say

Sri Lanka is bullish on India as a source market as it sees huge demand from the corporate and leisure sectors. One of Sri Lanka’s top hotel chains is seeing strong wedding-related demand from India.

Sri Lanka is focusing on reviving its tourism industry amid the economic crisis and is counting on India to be its biggest contributor, an executive at a top hotel chain said.

While arrivals in Sri Lanka have not returned to pre-Covid levels, the number of Indian tourists in the country is on the rise.

“India has been a top five source market for Sri Lanka and is currently number three. While Russia is in the lead, it is seasonally driven. The Indian business is growing every month. It will be our number one customer in a few months. source market,” said Christian Pertl, chief commercial officer of Sri Lankan hotel brand Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts.

Also read: Sri Lanka tourist arrivals on the rise despite economic crisis

In January this year, Sri Lanka received more than 100,000 tourists, 15 percent of whom were from India, he said. He said pre-Covid, there were 2 million tourist arrivals and 15-20% of the contribution was from India.

The hotel expects 1.6 million arrivals in Sri Lanka this year, with India accounting for 17-18% of total Sri Lankan tourists driven by MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) and weddings.

Executives from the hotel chain said the country was witnessing a high volume of MICE activity from India, including a large group from a major company, and another from the convention bureau. Also, weddings lead to more tourist activity from India. Cinnamon Hotels, which completed four weddings last year, has booked another five for 2023.

Also read: Indians traveling to Sri Lanka advised to follow new Covid protocols

According to hotel executives, India is a huge market for them.

“The Indian market is imperative for the world. By the end of 2024, Indian outbound tourism will reach around US$40 billion. Similar to China, India is an important source market for the world tourism economy. Due to its proximity to Sri Lanka, India is one of them most important source market,” Pertl added.

Tourism bureaus in many countries, including Australia and Singapore, have high hopes for India. According to a report, India is the largest source market for the Maldives with 223,000 arrivals by December 2022. India came second to Singapore with 600,000 tourists.

Tourism Australia noted that India is expected to be the first inbound market to reach pre-pandemic levels.

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