Sri Lanka is aiming to generate revenue in the excess of US$ 4.2 billion from tourism in 2016. In addition the island will also look at attracting 2.5 million arrivals for 2016.
These would be more than a 50% increase of revenue and arrivals from the 2013 figure. This target was spelt out by Dr. D. S. Jayaweera, Director General Sri Lanka Tourism, at the ITB Berlin Sri Lankan press conference and event which was well attended by the international media. Sri Lankan Tourism did not host this press conference at the last WTM in London in November.
Sri Lanka is already experiencing new record visitor numbers and a total of 1.27 million visitors in 2013, an increase of an enormous 26.7 percent compared to the previous year. With 85,470 arrivals, the number of travellers from Germany has increased by almost 20 percent compared with 2012.
The revenue generated from this segment was US$170 million last year. That makes Germany the most important tourism market after India and the UK. The average duration stay per visitor increased from 10 days in 2012 to 11 days in 2013.
The strategic development plan of Sri Lanka Tourism strives for 1.5 million visitors in total (130,000 from Germany) in 2014, 2.5 million in 2016 and 4 million in 2020.
“At the same time tourism related employment is expected to increase and the economic benefits of tourism will be distributed to a larger cross section of society.”
Dr Jayaweera said the tourism industry will provide over 500,000 direct employment opportunities by 2016 which once again will be an increase of over 60%. He also predicted construction boom in the industry where the current room strength of 16,614 will increase to 40,000 by the end of next year.
It is also expected that tourism will move up and be among the top three foreign exchange earners for the country. Subsequent to the press conference Sri Lanka Tourism also launched a Sri Lankan Taxi promotion with 75 taxies carrying the Sri Lankan elephant in Berlin.
Ambassador to Sri Lanka in Germany, Sarath Kongahage said that this is the first time that 75 taxies were used for a promotion of this magnitude.