We live here. Photo from island hopping in Jaffna.
I was looking thru some photos on the Sri Lanka Tourism Facebook page and it’s like, ye gods, I live here? Sri Lanka is a beautiful island and a great tourist destination. It’s affordable, friendly, and – for the first time – safe. I remember a friend of mine went down South without a phone and a bus along that line blew up. I worried till he got back to CMB. Not anymore. Now people can just go, all around the island.
Sri Lanka was recently tagged as an emerging tourist destination by some international tourism body (via LBO)
The World Travel Market 2011 Industry Report said the island was ‘re-emerging’ after the 30-year ethnic war and noted it for ‘beauty of destination’ and ‘investing in infrastructure’.
The report said Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico and Argentina are the other emerging counties behind the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
To anyone who’s been here, the appeal of Sri Lanka is quite self-evident, and needs no particular accreditation. I simply don’t know any other place in the world with such a concentration of awesome. You are never more than four hours from a beach, never more than 12 hours from anywhere, and you can experience everything from ancient ruins to snorkeling to amazing food and people, in a day. The one thing we lack is great shopping a la Kuala Lumpur or Singapore and high scale city stuff, but A) I can’t afford that stuff and B) there are plenty truer treasures. Colombo is developing an upscale end, ranging from boutique hotels to air taxis to hor air balloons, but even those are relatively affordable.
Personally, my best experiences have just been trekking around, eating street food, swimming, exploring and being amazed. Anyways, just to bore stuff up a bit, here’s a graph.
This graph is from a recent RAM Holdings report. This graph shows the annual growth of different services (not their absolute size). In that regard, tourism is bumping, and it puts money in peoples pockets all up and down the supply chain.
The tourism sub-sector, in particular, experienced a surge in activity, with tourist arrivals rising 34.3% y-o-y in the first 9 months of this year…
The latest estimates from the CBSL cite a 49% jump (or USD 521.7 million) in tourism receipts for the first 8 months of this year (RAM Economic Outlook)
Reuters has also just reported that 2011 is a record year for Sri Lankan tourism, after only 10 months.
November and December are perhaps the biggest months, yet uncounted, but this year has already been better than the last, and the best ever.
Tourist arrivals in the first ten months of 2011 jumped 34.2 percent to 667,569 from a year earlier, higher than Sri Lanka’s record annual tourist arrivals of 654,476 reached last year.
The arrivals rose 32.8 percent in October from a year earlier to 69,563.
The government is targeting annual revenue of $2.75 billion by 2016 from 2.5 million expected visitors attracted by Sri Lanka’s beaches, hills and religious and historic sites, while aiming for $3 billion in foreign direct investment.
Sri Lanka has forecast 20 percent growth in visitor arrivals this year to more than 780,000 people. Last year, the industry grew at 46 percent. The island’s tourism industry drew $1.2 billion for investment in the first half of 2011.
Tourism revenue, which jumped 64.8 percent in 2010 to a record $575.9 million, has risen 48.1 percent in the first nine months of this year from a year earlier to $580.1 million, central bank data shows. (Reuters)
So cool cool. Long term, the trick is not just increasing numbers, it’s balancing numbers, revenue and environmental and cultural interests to provide a positive experience for everybody. After years of trouble and asterixes and travel warnings, however, it is nice to see the numbers ticking up. The country deserves it.