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Crisis-hit Sri Lanka counting on India for recovery in tourism, says top hotel chain

Sri Lanka is betting big on India as a source market as it sees large demand coming from corporate and leisure
segments. One of the top hotel chains of Sri Lanka is seeing strong wedding related demand from India.

(SAI Bureau) Reeling under an economic crisis, Sri Lanka is focusing to revive its tourism business and is counting on India which it expects to become its top contributor, said an executive of Sri Lanka's top hotel chain.
While the arrival numbers in Sri Lanka are not back to pre-Covid levels, the country is seeing uptick in Indian travellers visiting the island nation.
"India is always in the top five source market for Sri Lanka and at the moment it is ranking number 3. While Russia is leading, it is very seasonal driven. India business is increasing on a monthly basis. In couple of months it will be our number one source market," said Christian Pertl, Chief Commercial Officer, Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts, a hospitality brand in Sri Lanka. He said that in January this year, Sri Lanka had over 100,000 tourists and 15 percent of that came from India. Pre-Covid, he said the arrivals were 2 million tourists and 15-20 percent contribution came from India.The hotel expects 1.6 million arrivals in the country this year, with India accounting for 17-18 percent of the total tourists coming to Sri Lanka driven by MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions tourism) and weddings.
The hotel chain executive said that the country is witnessing lot of MICE movement from India including large groups from a big firm, along with another group from Convention Bureau. In addition, weddings are resulting in more tourist activities from India. Cinnamon Hotels that completed four weddings last year has bookings for another five weddings in 2023.The hotel official said that India is a huge market that they are looking at. "Indian market is imperative to the world. Indian outbound tourism will reach about $40 billion by end of 2024. Similar to China, India is an important source market for the world tourism economy. Because of its proximity to Sri Lanka, India is one of the most important source markets," Pertl added.Tourism boards of many countries are betting big on India including Australia, Singapore, among others. India became the largest source market for Maldives with 223,000 arrivals till December 2022, according to a report. India took the second spot in terms of arrivals in Singapore with 600,000 visitors. Australia Tourism board noted that India is expected to be the first inbound market to reach pre-Covid levels.