The Sri Lanka tourism industry is in turmoil over the last few years due to many reasons. Starting from the easter bomb blast in 2019, COVID-19 travel restrictions, political instability and balance of payment issues are the main contributors that led to the underperformance of the tourism industry in Sri Lanka.
Despite the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the sentiment of travellers around the world being improved and ready to travel, Sri Lanka has had a lethargic approach in the past to tap into this lucrative industry. However, under the present administration, it seems the recovery of the tourism industry in Sri Lanka is started. The start of flights to Sri Lanka from foreign countries is critically important to break the present dilapidated condition of the Sri Lanka tourism industry. It improves the connectivity of Colombo to other international destinations, which encourages travellers to plan their holidays in Sri Lanka.
More than 30 carriers operated direct flights to Sri Lanka before the recent political unrest, before the appointment of current president Ranil Wickramasinghe. However, most of these carriers pulled out of Sri Lanka, due to the low demand. The economic and political crisis created a negative image of Sri Lanka among travellers, many countries announced negative travel advisories discouraging their nationals to travel to Sri Lanka. The negative media campaign against Sri Lanka could have been also a reason for tourists taking their wallets elsewhere.
Earning through the tourism industry is very important to the country and it is one of the most important contributors to the island’s gross domestic product. The contribution of the tourism industry to the island’s gross domestic product is around 12 per cent. The tourism industry attracts a large amount of hard currency to the island and it is the 3rd most important foreign exchange earner in Sri Lanka. The tourism industry creates a large number of employment opportunities and creates thousands of direct and indirect jobs in Sri Lanka.
According to the information received from the Ministry of Tourism of Sri Lanka, the tourism industry has been able to earn $ 1 billion by October for the year 2022, which is a considerable improvement compared to the last year’s earnings. The ministry estimates that by December 2022, Sri Lanka will have taken in approximately $1.7 billion.
The number of foreign travellers who arrived on the island in March 2022 is approximately 106,500, which is a considerable increase traveller compared to the number of travellers (4,581) in March 2021. In May 2022, the number of travellers decreased to 30,207 due to the political instability and economic crisis. A decrease in earnings from the tourism industry was one of the main reasons for sri Lanka’s foreign exchange crisis. Therefore, economic analysts opine that the increase in foreign travellers on the island will have a positive impact on Sri Lanka’s economy and pull the nation out of its current economic crisis.
Azur Air starts direct flights to Sri Lanka
Russia’s largest charter airline Azur Air is scheduled to resume flights to Colombo on 3rd November 2022. The scheduled flight will arrive at the Colombo airport at 9.50 am. Azur Air will operate four scheduled flights per week at the start and they are hoping to increase the number of weekly flights as and when required due to the increasing demand. Azur Air is the second carrier that operates direct flights to Sri Lanka from Russia.
Aeroflot started direct flights to Sri Lanka in October and has contributed to the increase of foreign travellers on the island, punching the number of foreign travellers to 40000 for October. Aeroflot stopped its flight to sri Lanka as one aircraft was grounded in June 2022 due to a court order. and
On a development note of the Sri Lanka tourism industry, another two popular carriers, Netherlands flag carrier, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and French flag carrier, Air France are also set to resume flights to Colombo from 3rd November 2022. These new carriers increase the connectivity of Sri Lanka with other major tourist destinations in the world. It is very important for the island to attract more foreign travellers into the islands. Even though there are a large number of travellers who like to explore Sri Lanka, the lack of flights is a hindrance to increasing the number of international travellers in Seri Lanka.
Swiss International Airlines starts direct flights to Sri Lanka
After Azur Air, the national carrier of Switzerland plans to start direct flights to Sri Lanka starting from 10th November 2022. Initially, it will operate a few direct flights to Sri Lanka and increasing in flights will be decided as the demand grows. Sri Lanka is an important long-haul holiday destination in the world and the island attracts a large number of European travellers during the winter season. The 6 month period from November to April is the peak holiday season in Sri Lanka. With the increase in direct flights from Europe such as swiss air and KLM dutch airlines, the government hopes to attract more European travellers to the island in winter 2022/23.
Air France and Royal Dutch Airlines to resume flight operations to Sri Lanka
Air France and Royal Dutch Airlines are set to resume flight operations to Sri Lanka from the 04th of November onwards. According to the tweet note published by the minister of tourism Harin Fernando, Air France and KLM Airlines will resume direct flights to Colombo. At the start, the number of direct flights per week is limited to four.
After starting the flight operation between Sri Lanka and France, Air France will operate 3 direct flights between Colombo and Paris. So far the flights are scheduled only for the winter of 2022/23. Now travellers from 170 destinations around the world can arrive at the Colombo international airport by using Air France, all flights fly via the convenient hub of Paris’ Charles de Gaulle. Air France will use Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to serve the travellers on this route. The Boeing 787-9 comprised 297 seats including 30 Business class, 21 in Premium Economy and 228 in Economy class seats.