Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena Tuesday appealed to the international community, including India, to lift travel the warnings issued after the Easter Sunday terror attacks, as the country's tourist arrivals dipped 7.5 per cent last month.
The terror attacks on three luxury hotels and three churches on April 21 killed 257 people, including over 40 foreigners. Ten Indians were among the dead.
Tourism accounts for about five per cent of Sri Lanka's economy, with India, Britain and China being the main markets. The country earned about USD 4.4 billion in 2018 from the tourism sector.
Following Sri Lanka's worst terror attack, India issued an advisory for its nationals in the country.
India is the largest source market for Sri Lanka, which received 2.3 million tourists from around the world in 2018. Around 450,000 Indian tourists visited Sri Lanka last year and the island nation was expecting the total Indian tourist arrivals to cross one million in 2019.
Meanwhile, according to official tourism arrival figures released on Tuesday, the first monthly report since the terror attacks, showed that Sri Lanka's tourist arrivals declined 7.5 per cent in April 2019 compared to the same period last year.
The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority said April recorded 166,975 foreign tourists in the country compared to 180,429 in April 2018, a 7.5 per cent dip in arrival of tourists from abroad.
As on April 30, a total of 907,575 tourists visited Sri Lanka this year. It was 2.2 per cent growth over last year when 888,353 tourists had visited the country during the same period.
The largest source market for tourists in April was the United Kingdom, followed by the India and Germany, Colombo Page reported.
United Kingdom, India, Germany, China and Australia were Sri Lanka's top five international tourist generating markets in the month of April this year. United Kingdom was the largest source of tourist traffic to Sri Lanka with 15 per cent of the total traffic received last month.
Tourist arrivals from India fell by 21.5 per cent with 29,860 visitors arriving while arrivals from China decreased by 18.3 per cent to record 17,462 arrivals.
"We expect a 30 per cent drop in arrivals and that means a loss of about USD 1.5 billion in foreign exchange," Samaraweera said, adding that the country could take up to two years to fully recover from the deadly bombings which shattered a decade of peace in the country.
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