SL tourism targets to up earnings by 46% to $ 3.5 b this year: John

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Minister John Amaratunga on Friday revealed that Sri Lanka tourism is targeting $ 3.5 billion in earnings this year on the strength of 2.5 million visitors.

In this the Golden Jubilee year we hope to achieve tourism revenue of $ 3.5 billion by welcoming 2.5 million visitors. Our target is to raise the per capita spend of each visitor from the present 165 US Dollars per night to 250 US Dollars per night,” Tourism Minister Amaratunga said speaking at the Sri Lanka Tourism’s Golden Jubilee celebrations. “The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and the Sri Lanka Conventions Bureau are going all out to achieve these targets under the guidance of my Ministry and also the Tourism Advisory Council,” the Minister said.

The 2016 target reflects a 46% increase from last year’s earnings of $ 2.43 billion, up from 22.6% in 2014. Last year tourist arrivals grew by 18% to 1.79 million and average spending by a tourist per day rose to $ 164.1 in 2015 from $ 160.8 in 2014.

The Minister said that towards achieving this target the SLTPB and SLCB will be participating in all key international travel shows to promote Destination Sri Lanka while also adopting innovative methods of advertising to reach target audiences.

It was pointed out that the entry of top international brands, the upgrading of existing hotels and the emergence of the luxury boutique segment have contributed to the changing profile of inbound tourists. “While Sri Lanka remains a value-for-money proposition especially with the introduction of the home stay concept and air bnb, we are also becoming a significant player in the luxury segment. According to industry analysts, the luxury segment will continue to grow in to the foreseeable future. This will lead to increased spending which is good for the economy,” Minister Amaratunga pointed out.

He also said thousands of Sri Lankans have found a livelihood in providing goods and services to the tourism and hospitality industries. This is in addition to direct employment which currently stands at around 130,000.

“According to forecasts this number will have to be more than doubled by the year 2020 to service the targeted 4 million visitors. This is a huge challenge for my Ministry, but one which we have embraced very confidently,” Amaratunga said.

According to him, starting from this year, the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hospitality Management has doubled its intake of students from 3,200 last year to 6,000 students this year.

“This has been done with the introduction of new courses and the setting up of new satellite hotel schools in key tourist locations. Rather than waiting for the youth to come to us, we are now going to the youth. I’m happy to inform you that the response has been very encouraging. In the past 9 months we have opened three new satellite hotel schools in Hambantota, Passikudah and Negombo. More of these schools will be opened wherever there is demand for it. These new generation hospitality campuses will groom our youth to take on the challenges of the modern tourism industry with confidence,” Minister Amaratunga said.

He also said one of the key areas his Ministry is currently focusing on is MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events) tourism. “We see huge growth potential for this segment especially from India and China,” he said.

“In a very encouraging development, the leading French travel association, JEV – formally called SNAV – has decided to hold its annual congress for 2016 in Sri Lanka. This is a huge morale booster for the industry and one that will translate into considerable growth in the French market over the next few years. In addition the World Tourism Organization is conducting a global conference in Passikudah in July this year further highlighting the growth of this segment,” the Minister said.

“One area that was a drawback to developing this segment was connectivity. That problem is being solved with the airlines operating to Colombo increasing their frequencies and also the entry of new airlines to Colombo. We are very encouraged by the re-entry of KLM and our intention is to increase the number of daily flights which currently stands at around 75 to over 100 in the near future,” Amaratunga added.

Source : http://www.ft.lk/article/544844/SL-tourism-targets-to-up-earnings-by-46–to—3-5-b-this-year–John#sthash.O0TgQ4oA.dpuf

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