Economic crisis shakes tourism sector that accounts for 12.6 percent of the country’s GDP.
Shalini and Alok have been planning to visit Sri Lanka on their honeymoon since last year. After having an intimate wedding due to the pandemic, they were excited for a trip to the island nation. “After looking at the economic condition of the country, and flight tickets and hotel prices increasing, I think we will have to change our plans,” said Alok.
Dhanajay, manager of 360 Tours Lanka– a Sri Lanka based Travel company, said that there is great difficulty in managing travelers as there are long queues for fuel. Basic food such as milk is in short supply; medicines are getting costly, and the country has regular power cuts for five to six hours a day. “People come here to relax, to enjoy; power cuts make that difficult. Generators take up fuel, which is getting very costly. It’s difficult to manage the round tours around the city as the cars need diesel and there are long queues for it. So, we had to increase our hotel prices to cover the cost,” said Dhananjay.
Since the pandemic, Sri Lanka has been suffering from an economic crisis. Foreign travelers will have to pay 25 to 27 percent more for flight tickets from March 11, 2022, as the rupee continues to depreciate against the dollar. According to Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), from January 1 to February 27 2022, there were 1,75,982 tourist arrivals, which is the highest after the pandemic. In February 2019 they received 2.5 lakh tourists while in February 2022, they only received 93, 582 tourists. “We’ve had the highest number of travelers coming from Ukraine and Russia since the war started,” said Dhananjay.
India is the second-largest tourism market for Sri Lanka contributing 24,141 tourists in 2022. “We got 200 bookings for Sri Lanka in February itself but now as prices are increasing, I think we’ll see a little dip this month,” said Vikram Kumar a travel agent from Akbar travels, an India based travel company.
Sri Lanka is also facing difficulty from the United Kingdom (UK) which provides a large part of revenue in tourism to the country.
UK in its latest travel advisory issued on March 7 has warned the citizens against a trip to Sri Lanka. It mentioned Sri Lanka’s deteriorating economy leading to a shortage of necessities such as fuel, medicine and food. It has also warned them about increasing Covid-19 and dengue cases.
“There is a 25 percent decrease of travelers from UK this month,” said Dhananjay. “People don’t care about Covid here anymore as they are facing an economic crisis and they want to survive first,” he added.