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ECONOMYNEXT – Tour operators in Sri Lanka are looking at new markets like Myanmar, Iran and other Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern countries as the island nation anticipates a boost in tourism in 2023.

Deputy General Manager of Aitken Spence Niranjan Wickramasinghe told EconomyNext that the country is currently seeing large numbers of Russian and Ukrainian tourists in the island with over 5,000 Russians arriving in May. Russia is one of the top ten source markets for tourism in Sri Lanka along with countries like India, UK, Germany, France, and China.

“This year, we are going to have Myanmar as well. We started sometime back, just before COVID-19. We have already started in Iran and are looking at other markets too. There is a considerable number coming from Iran as it’s a developing segment,” said Wickramasinghe.

Other operators are looking at new markets in Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern, though some are still concentrating on existing markets.

“Mainly, we are targeting markets in the Netherlands, Germany and India,” Executive, Sales and Reservation, Eastern Hotel Developers Chamidi Weerarathne told Economy Next.

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry was massively hit after the Easter Attacks in 2019, followed by the pandemic in 2020 and the currency crisis and the protests that it triggered in 2022

The crisis-hit island nation’s budget-friendly tourism packages remain affordable to many of its source markets. From January to May, the number of tourist arrivals from Russia was 99,820, a 20 percent contribution.

The island saw 57,142 arrivals in May and 498,319 since January so far. (Colombo/May27/2023)

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