By 2018, the industry had grown to contribute 5 percent to GDP with 4.4 billion US dollars in revenue.
Ukwatte said tourism earnings in 2020 are expected to fall even below the 2019 numbers.
Central Bank provisional numbers showed Sri Lanka had earned 3.6 billion US dollars from tourism in 2019.
Up to Sunday 19 persons had tested positive for Coronavirus, including a Chinese national who recovered and left the country while over a 100 are under observation.
Sri Lanka in January restricted visa to Chinese nationals, who form a tenth of the island’s foreign visitors, as the virus outbreak accelerated, causing arrivals from the East Asian economy to plunge 92.5 percent, and total arrivals to fall 17.7 percent.
But in March 2020, boarding restrictions were placed on 11 countries including UK and Germany which are among the top generating markets for Sri Lanka.
Europe accounted for 44 percent of tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka in 2019. Within Europe, UK and Germany account for the largest shares, and the British government issued a travel advisory to its citizens on Sunday, saying Sri Lankan authorities would quarantine them to stop the spread of the virus.
In March, Sri Lanka restricted arrivals of holidaymakers who had been in South Korea, Italy, Iran, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden and Austria since the start of the month. (Colombo/Mar16/2020)