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Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals continue to tumble despite 'aggressive' push

Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals dropped by 22.5% in October, representing a seventh straight month of decline, despite the government launching several worldwide "aggressive" tourism campaigns.

According to figures from Sri Lanka’s Tourism Ministry, total number of international tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka in October 2019 was 118,743, down from the same period last year when there were 153,123 arrivals.

The fall comes despite Sri Lanka’s government launching campaigns in London and targeting a “mega tourism promotion campaign” in China and other countries next month.

At the World Travel Market London (WTM London), where Colombo had a premium stall, Sri Lankan politicians and former cricketer captain Kumar Sangakkara, were deployed to try and revive the flagging tourism industry, alongside a troupe of Sinhala Kandyan dancers.

“The government has done everything possible to regain the popularity for the destination by building confidence carrying out various aggressive promotional campaigns,” said Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism development John Amaratunga.

However, the state received a blow when last month the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Colombo issued a warning, encouraging travellers to avoid going to Sri Lanka.

Last year, the Sri Lanka Campaign re-launched its ethical tourism campaign for those who visit Sri Lanka and the Tamil homeland, reflecting ongoing concerns regarding militarisation and in an effort to prevent human rights abusers from benefitting from tourism to the island.