- In comparison to June, the performance is a massive 83% gain but lower by 102,000 compared to a year ago
Tourist arrivals in July have crossed the 100,000 mark, reflecting a massive 83% gain in comparison to June, though 102,000 below compared to last year.
The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) said yesterday that there were 115,701 tourist arrivals in July, up 83% as against 63,072 in June. In May, it was as low as 37,802, suffering most following the 21 April Easter Sunday terror attacks on three five-star hotels and an equal number of churches, which killed 250 people including 50 foreigners.
In July last year, there were 217,829 tourist arrivals, and the latest performance is 47% lower and suggests there is much room for growth.
SLTDA said: “There is a gradual growth in the number of tourist arrivals since the Easter Sunday attacks.”
“The market has significantly shown progress over the past few weeks and we are happy to notice that the occupancy rates are increasing in hotels across Sri Lanka,” SLTDA Director General Upali Ratnayake said.
“Further, we are hopeful that the industry will have a satisfactory season from October onwards,” Ratnayake added.
Last year, Sri Lanka welcomed 2.33 million tourists and earned $ 4.4 billion in foreign exchange.
Earlier this week, with the Government announcing a number of measures to make the destination attractive to travellers, SLTDA said they were expecting around 1.9 million to 2 million tourist arrivals by the end of the year.
“According to the actual arrival data up to 25 July and the forecast for the rest of the month, we are expecting a total of 117,000 for July. By the end of this year, we hope Sri Lanka would be in a position to attract between 1.9 million to 2 million tourists,” Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman Kishu Gomes told journalists last Wednesday (31 July).
He said that compared to other countries which had faced similar incidents, Sri Lanka had bounced back faster than expected. “Other countries took over one year or more to recover, but we have been able to bounce back within three months. I can assure you we will not take 13 months to recover fully,” Gomes added. (CdeS)
“The market has significantly shown progress over the past few weeks, and we are happy to notice that the occupancy rates are increasing in hotels across Sri Lanka. We are hopeful that the industry will have a satisfactory season from October onwards,” – SLTDA Director General Upali Ratnayake
Bombs hit Bangkok during major security meeting
BANGKOK (Reuters): Six small bomb blasts wounded at least four people in Bangkok on Friday, as the Thai capital hosted a Southeast Asian security meeting with top diplomats from the United States, China and other world powers.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha ordered an investigation into the bombs, a blow to Thailand’s image during the high profile event and barely two weeks after his former military junta transformed into a civilian government.
The first small explosions were heard during rush hour, just before 9 a.m. (0200 GMT), at two sites in central Bangkok. Further blasts hit a government complex hosting several ministries in the north of the city.
Four people were wounded, the Erawan Medical Center said.
Three of those hurt were women cleaning the street when what police called a “ping-pong bomb” went off. Pictures on local websites showed them looking dazed and getting treatment from medics.
The other casualty was near the 77-storey King Power Mahanakhon building, one of the tallest in Bangkok. Police Colonel Kamtorn Uicharoen told Reuters a total of six bombs exploded. One was recovered before it blew up.
“My ears were ringing. The sound was so loud,” said motorcycle taxi driver Chokechai Prasongsan, 48.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
“I would like to condemn those causing the situation which destroys peace and damages the country’s image,” Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth said on Twitter.
In a message to the public, Prayuth said: “A group of ill-intended people have recently incited violence while the government is propelling the country forward.”
He did not identify the group, but urged Thais to cooperate with security forces.
None of Friday blasts were very close to the regional security meeting venue. China’s top diplomat Wang Yi and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are attending the forum.
Bangkok was last hit by a series of small bomb blasts in 2017. One man, a junta opponent, was jailed for planting a bomb that wounded 21 people at a hospital.
The city’s worst bombing was in 2015 when 20 people were killed in an attack for which two Chinese ethnic Uighur men were arrested.
A low level insurgency in the largely Malay Muslim provinces of Thailand’s far south has left nearly 7,000 people dead since 2004, but violence largely been confined to that region.
Bangkok is currently hosting a regional security meeting of foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and their counterparts from world powers including the United States, China and Russia.
Thai Foreign Ministry official Arthayudh Srisamoot said the blasts had no impact at the summit. Two fake bombs were discovered nearby on Thursday and police said two people had been arrested in connection with planting them.
The bombs rattled the Thai capital, ranked the world’s most visited city by Mastercard last year. The busy Sala Daeng metro station was shut temporarily over a false alarm.
“It has created a climate of terror and in turn it will pile more pressure on the new government and end their honeymoon period,” said Panitan Wattanayagorn, a political analyst at Chulalongkorn University.
Prayuth, who first took power in a 2014 coup, has headed a civilian cabinet since mid-July following an election in March that his opponents said was managed to ensure the generals kept power. The most senior cabinet members all served in the junta.
Prayuth nonetheless won strong support from the United States on Friday, with Pompeo telling an event in Bangkok: “We commend our Thai friends for returning to the democratic fold.”
Singapore relaxes travel advisory for Sri Lanka
Singapore relaxed its travel advisory for Sri Lanka from ‘defer all non-essential travels’ to ‘exercise caution’, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday.
The Singapore Government noted that since the Easter Sunday bomb attacks on 21 April, there had been no further major security incidents in Sri Lanka.
“There is still the risk of terrorist cells existing and the State of Emergency remains in force. Security has been tightened at key installations, including places of worship, tourist locations and airports,” the Singapore Government said.
Singaporeans travelling to Sri Lanka have been advised to exercise caution, and if they are already in Sri Lanka, they have been strongly advised to stay vigilant and take all necessary precautions for their personal safety, including to monitor the news closely and heed the instructions of the local authorities.
“You should avoid public places where there are large gatherings of people. Do stay in touch with your family and friends so that they know you are safe. You should also purchase comprehensive travel insurance and be familiar with the terms and coverage,” the Singapore Government said. (Colombo Gazette)