The initial spread of COVID-19 globally and the enforcement of global travel restrictions caused a downward trend on tourist arrivals for the year. In January, arrivals fell by 6.5% to 228,434 and in February arrivals declined by 17.7% to 207,507 while in March it further dropped by 70.8% to 71,370.
The Government terminated arrival of all passenger flights and ships into Sri Lanka from 18 March. Total tourist arrivals from January to June 2019 were 1.08 million, and the decline of 49.7 % for the same period this year is a direct impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The historic development is in view of Sri Lankan borders being closed to tourists, a move applied by most countries in line with measures to stem the spread of COVID-19.
“The effect of the outbreak of COVID-19 is clearly evident, as all countries have recorded a decline in arrivals from mid-February. However, it is noteworthy that arrivals from countries such as Kazakhstan (85.7%), Bhutan (23.8%), Russian Federation (11.2%) and Poland (6.2%) have recorded an increase for the above period,” SLTDA said. The largest source markets recorded for the period from January to June include; India, followed by the United Kingdom and Russian Federation.
India, United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, and China were Sri Lanka’s top five international tourist generating markets in the period from January to June this year. In comparison to the arrivals from January to June last year, the highest decline of 56.7% was recorded for Africa while Asia and Pacific recorded a decline of 56.1%.
The Americas recorded a decline of 54.8% while Middle East region also recorded a decline of 50.7%. A decline of 43.5% was recorded from Europe. India was the largest source of tourist traffic to Sri Lanka with 17.6 % of the total traffic received in above period. United Kingdom accounted for 10.9 % of the total traffic; while Russian Federation, Germany and China accounted for 9.7 %, 6.8 % and 5.2 % respectively.
In comparison to the top ten markets, the effect of the outbreak of COVID-19 is clearly evident, as all countries have recorded a decline in arrivals, except Russia. It is noteworthy that China has recorded the highest decline of 73.2%.