Sri Lanka Tourism to achieve 4.5 mn tourists by 2020 in revised target

By Chandeepa Wettasinghe
Following Sri Lanka failing to achieve the 2 million tourist arrival target for 2015, future targets have been amended to realistic levels, the country’s tourism chief said.
A document with the revised figures was handed over to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe this week.

“We’re targeting 2.2 million visitor arrivals for 2016 and 4.5 million for 2020,” Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau and Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Chairman Paddy Withana said yesterday at a media briefing.

However, he said that there is even a possibility of adding 200,000 additional tourist arrivals to the 2016 target if international trends align well with Sri Lanka.
Withana noted that Sri Lanka will be looking towards China and India for growth in terms of geography, while looking for niche sector growth from sports, adventure, MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) and cruise tourism.

The global economic outlook for 2016 looks grim with a downturn in China. However, even through the 2008 financial crisis, certain segments, such as cruise tourism, had recorded strong growth.
The past government had set targets of 2 million arrivals for 2015, 2.5 million arrivals for 2016 and 4 million arrivals for 2020.

Sri Lanka attracted just 1.8 million tourists last year. Industry sources say the previous regime fiddled with figures to achieve its targets since 2010. The most overt adjustment was seen when the definition of a tourist was changed to international standards when targets were not met in 2013.
Further, growth rates of arrivals have been in decline, from 26.7 percent in 2013 to 19.8 percent in 2014, down to 17.8 percent in 2015

“You look at the growth rates. The point is can they be sustained? You can’t keep on adding. Last year the figures were arbitrary figures and I’m sure they didn’t plan it,” Withana said.
Since the start of 2015, the new government had mentioned different targets for 2020, including initial acceptance of the previous regime’s master plan, then adjusting the goal to 4.5 million arrivals, and then revising to 4.2 million arrivals at the end of last year.

Withana said that he was confident of achieving the 4.5 million tourist target. This was despite such a target requiring a 20.4 percent compounded growth rate annually compared to the recent diminishing growth trends.

“This is all planned. We’ve seen the countries, the marketing, we’re looking at the growth of all the countries over the years, and their outbound travel, to have this figure,” he said.
He added that in terms of income, the government was targeting US$ 3.6 billion for 2016, and US$ 10 billion for 2020.

Central Bank statistics showed that tourism had attracted US$ 2.86 billion in 2015, and US$ 2.43 billion in 2014.
Withana said that the authorities were looking at methods of minimizing negative impacts to the community and the environment.

Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau Managing Director Ruvini Dias Bandaranayake said that these factors will be further investigated, and a comprehensive, structured master plan will be devised and published in the future.

Source : http://www.dailymirror.lk/106414/Sri-Lanka-Tourism-to-achieve-mn-tourists-by-in-revised-target#sthash.L58yy2Cl.dpuf

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