ECONOMYNEXT – Foreign visitors from Russia and Ukraine, the two countries now threatening the world of an armed war amid escalated tension, helped Sri Lanka’s post-Covid-19 tourism recovery this year, the official government data showed on Monday (14).

Russians accounted for 18,044 or 15.8 percent of the total 113,670 holiday makers who visited Sri Lanka this year up to February 11, while Ukrainians accounted for 9,883 or 8.7 percent of the total visitors in the same period.

Russia has more than 100,000 troops massed near Ukraine, which is not part of the Atlantic military alliance, and Washington – while keeping open the diplomatic channels that have so far failed to ease the crisis – has repeatedly said an invasion is imminent, Reuters has reported on Monday.

“An analysis of Russian arrivals in the consecutive years reveals that it has almost exceeded the pre
pandemic levels as experienced in January 2019,” the state-run Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority said in its January monthly report.

“This could be likely due to increased interest by Russian tour operators in alternative destinations to
Thailand and Goa with strict public health measures in place and the launching of direct flights to

The country saw an increase of Ukrainian and Russian travelers after a tourism revival projected
targeting those countries was launched in late 2020 by former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia
Udayanga Weeratunga.

Sri Lanka started direct flights between Sri Lanka and Russia from November last year following an agreement between Russia’s Aeroflot airline and Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation authority.

The island nation, populour for its shallow beaches and diverse nature attracted 12.3 percent of the offshore visitors from both Russia and Ukraine in 2021 when it saw only a total of 194,495 tourists visited the country.

The SLTDA has targeted at least 1.1 million arrivals this year with a targeted average of
90,000 tourists per month.

Sri Lanka’s revenue from tourism hit 110.7 million US dollars in January this year compared to 2.3 million US dollars a year ago mainly due to lockdown in 2021.

The SLTDA has aimed to promote Sri Lanka as a destination for foreign weddings, meeting, nd conferences to boost the number of tourists in the country.  (Colombo/Feb14/2022)