The tourism industry in Sri Lanka is booming with a marked increase in tourist arrivals, the annual report of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority - 2011 stated.
According to the report, tourist arrivals reached the 855,975 mark and it is the highest recorded in a year. Foreign exchange earnings from tourism increased 41.4 percent from $ 575.9m in 2010 to $ 838.9m in 2011. Foreign exchange receipts per tourist per day has increased by $10, from $88 in 2010 to $ 98 in 2011.Internationally the tourism sector has shown a growth after recovery of the global economy, major political changes in the Middle East and North Africa and the natural disaster in Japan in 2010. In 2011, tourist arrivals increased to 980 million from 939 million in 2010.
The tourism industry is the sixth largest foreign exchange earner and has contributed 4.3 percent of the foreign exchange earned in 2011. Foreign remittances, textile and apparel exports, tea exports, transportation and rubber-based exports are the other top foreign exchange earners.
The report stated that the tourism source to Sri Lanka had changed and Asia has emerged as the main source after 2009 and has captured a 39 percent share of the market, while Western Europe with 36 percent has become the second largest source.
The Middle East accounts for 6.7 percent, Australia 5.4 percent and North America and Eastern Europe account for 5.7 percent each. India has emerged as the leading source market for Sri Lanka with 171,374 arrivals, a 20 percent increase compared to the previous year.
The average duration of stay of a tourist is 10 nights, the same as compared to the previous year. Of them 26.1 percent of tourists stayed three nights or less, 32.1 percent stayed four to seven to nights, 31.1 percent stayed eight to 14 nights and 10.7 percent stayed for more than two weeks.
Total room capacity in tourist hotels (graded establishments) was 14,653. Room occupancy rate has increased to 77.1 percent in 2011 compared to 70.2 percent in 2010. The total foreign guest nights recorded in graded accommodation establishments were at 21.4 percent.
There was an increase in prices in all sectors relating to tourism. Accommodation increased by 17.8 percent, food and beverage by eight percent and transport by 65.3 percent.
Employment generated in the sector, both direct and indirect increased by five percent and 138,685 people were employed in the industry.
There are some changes in the pattern of tourists visiting the country. The prime motivation for travel to Sri Lanka is for pleasure purposes such as holiday, recreation and site seeing and 80.4 percent of the total tourists who came in 2011 belong to this category.
The visitors who came for private and official business declined to eight percent in 2011 from 12.7 percent in 2010, while those visiting for conventions and meetings has increased to 1.7 percent from one percent during the same period.
Of the total pleasure travellers, 40.4 percent were from Western Europe, 36 percent from Asia, 7.5 percent from the Middle East, 6.5 percent from Eastern Europe, 4.5 percent from Australia and 4.7 percent from North America.
The largest proportion of business tourists, 63.5 percent came from Asia and the second highest,18.9 percent were from Western Europe.
There is an increase in revenue earned by various government institutions with the increase in tourist arrivals. The total revenue collected by listed sources in 2011 was Rs. 4, 017.3m as compared to Rs. 3,219.1m collected by the same sources in 2010.
Embarkation tax, cultural triangle entrance fee and tourism development levy are the top three revenue earners and have earned Rs. 1,041.7m, Rs. 998.2m and Rs 649.7m.