By Mario Andree
Sri Lanka welcomed more than 106,500 tourists into the country during March this year, which is the highest number of arrivals recorded during a single month this year and since February 2020.
According to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority(SLTDA), the country welcomed more than 285,334 tourists during the first three months of this year, reporting a 31.8 per cent increase from 194,495 visitors recorded during the entire 2021 and a 2,224.8 per cent growth compared to the same period.
Following the rapid spread of the Covid-19 pandemic globally and in the country, Sri Lanka opted to close borders to international travellers in March 2020, which was lifted during the latter part of January last year.
According to the SLTDA, following the opening, more than 1,682 visitors arrived in the country in January, 3,366 in February and 4,581 in March showing some promise, but arrivals started to shrink thereafter with 4,168 in April and 1,497 in May. In June, the country welcomed 1,614 travellers, once again showing promise of improvement. In July Sri Lanka greeted 2,429 travellers followed by 5,040 in August, 13,547 in September, 22,771 in October, 44,294 in November and 89,506 December last year.
This year, in January, Sri Lanka welcomed more than 82,327 visitors and in February 96,507.
Europe became the largest source of tourist traffic to Sri Lanka with 58.1 per cent of the total traffic received in March 2022. Pent up demand especially from countries such as India, the United Kingdom, Germany and France are likely to have driven this growth momentum.
Asia and the Pacific accounted for 32 per cent of total arrivals. The Middle East accounted for 3.1 per cent of the total traffic, while the Americas accounted for 6 per cent.
Country wise, India, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russian Federation and France were Sri Lanka’s top five international tourist generating markets for the month of March this year. India was the largest source of tourist visits to Sri Lanka with 22 per cent of the total traffic received in March.
The on arrival visa facility introduced for the Indian tourists could have partly contributed for the increased arrivals from India. The United Kingdom and Germany accounted for 12 per cent and 9 per cent of the total traffic while Russia and France accounted for 8 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.