Sep 162013
August tourist arrivals up 26%
Tourist arrivals increased by 26.1 percent year-on-year (YoY) to 100,244 visitors in August. The Western European region recorded the highest arrivals with 38,951 in August against 32,656 arrivals last year, with arrivals from the UK and Germany increasing by 6.9 percent YoY and 35 percent YoY, respectively to 12,353 and 8,318 arrivals each.

India was the single largest source of arrivals to the country with 14,528 visitors in August, up 29.2 percent YoY while the South Asian region as a whole accounted for 22,208 arrivals, reflecting a 35.9 percent YoY growth.

The East Asian region accounted for a further 15,544 arrivals, up 33.4 percent YoY lead by Japan with 4,407 arrivals, an increase of 33.5 percent YoY and China with a 73.6 percent YoY increase in arrivals to 4,098 visits during the month.

 Arrivals from Eastern Europe increased by 8.3 percent YoY to 4,281 visits with Russia accounting for 1,981 tourists. However, arrivals from Ukraine dropped 10.7 percent YoY to 1,010 arrivals in August.

Additionally, arrivals from the Middle East increased 75.4 percent YoY to 8,683 visits. India, China, Russia and the Middle East are tipped as emerging tourist markets with many destinations now realigning their tourist campaigns to cater to these new markets.

The total arrivals from January to August this year increased by 14.3 percent YoY to 711,466 visitors, mostly from the Western European region, which accounted for 281,223 arrivals reflecting a 13.9 percent YoY increase.

South Asian arrivals topped 168,796, approximately 12.6 percent over the previous year with India accounting for 113,541 arrivals, a marginal 4.9 percent YoY increase.

Meanwhile, arrivals from East Asia grew by 23.6 percent YoY to 97,361 arrivals while arrivals from Eastern Europe grew 21 percent YoY to 46,411 arrivals.

Sri Lanka Tourism target for the end of this year stands at 1.1 million arrivals, having been revised down from a previously targeted 1.25 million arrivals. (CF)

Mar 172013
Tax-free zone at Mattala airport
Sri Lanka is turning its newest international airport opening Monday into a tax-free zone to attract aviation-related industries, a top official said.

Talks were under way to set up aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul operations at the $209 million airport located near wildlife sanctuaries in the island’s southeast, airport chairman Prasanna Wickremasuriya told AFP.

The airport can accommodate Airbus A-380, the biggest passenger liner in service, and is part of ambitious plans to turn the district of Hambantota, the home constituency of President Mahinda Rajapakse, into the new commercial capital of Sri Lanka.

“We can be a regional hub for aircraft maintenance. Negotiations are on with a big European operator to set up a facility at Mattala,” Wickremasuriya said. “We have huge potential for cargo and tourist traffic as well.”

The airport and its immediate surroundings, about 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres), are being designated a free zone for foreign and local investors to set up warehouses, maintenance hangars and other industries, Wickremasuriya said.

Work began in 2011 for the Mattala International airport (MIA), located within Hambantota district, but it is being re-named after the president as Mahinda Rajapakse International Airport (MRIA).

The first flight is to be operated by the national carrier, Sri Lankan Airlines.

 China’s Export-Import Bank funded the airport which can handle a million passengers a year. China also funded the $1.5-billion sea port opened for commercial shipping in Hambantota last year. The first foreign carrier to fly to MRIA will be Air Arabia which has announced twice weekly flights to Sharjah from Mattala, about 270 kilometres (168 miles) south of Colombo by road. Fly Dubai, the low-cost carrier of Emirates, is also due to start operations in a few months. The airport is initially aiming at migrant workers employed in the Middle East as nearly 30 percent of those who travel abroad for employment from Sri Lanka are from districts neighbouring the airport. “We see a huge potential for tourism because the airport is close to wildlife parks,” Wickremasuriya said. “We have 540 mid-range hotel rooms in the area and more are coming up.” Hong-Kong based luxury hotel chain Shangri-La is building a hotel in the area. Mattala was initially planned as an expansion of the small Wirawila military airstrip, but Wickremasuriya said they shifted the location 25 kilometres (16 miles) away to ensure no disruption to local rice farmers.

Jan 072013
Present tea price trend could bring strong 1Q13 results - JK
If the present trend in tea prices is to continue, the industry could expect strong first quarter performance in 2013, according to John Keells Ltd, a leading tea broker in the country.

As it pointed out, although production in 2012 is likely to fall short of the all-time record set in 2010, tea sale averages have set a new all-time record of Rs.394.64 per kg, which is Rs.21.03 higher than the record year and Rs.31.75 above 2011.

“This is a commendable achievement considering the fact that the general trend of declining prices from the second half of 2011 continued into the first quarter of 2012 with all three elevations recording negative variances,” John Keells said.

They also said it was largely due to the low grown market having to contend with increased tension in the Middle East, sanctions in Iran and the Euro crisis.

“However, the global shortfall in black tea production during the year and the devaluation of the rupee against the US dollar had a significant impact on tea prices at the Colombo auctions,” the tea broker noted.

Sri Lanka’s Sale Averages for the month of December have exceeded the Rs.400 mark for the past five consecutive months, with an average of Rs.424.38, which incidentally is the second highest monthly average ever recorded, with the previous best being Rs.431 in September 2009.

“Once again, we see a strong performance coming from the High Grown Sector of Rs.439.08 which has boosted the overall average,” John Keells noted.

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