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August 2019 Updates

On-Ground Updates

15th August 2019

  • Possible plans to resume ferry service with India
    talking to reporters at the sidelines of an event organized by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Minister of Tourism, John Amaratunga, had spoken about the possible resumption of the ferry service with India to boost tourism.
    “There was a ferry service between the tip of South India and to the northern part of Sri Lanka. It was not only to carry people but also cargo between the two countries. But, the service was abandoned. The infrastructure still remains,” he said. He further noted “This service was abandoned. And now, I am taking the initiative to resume the service. Our High Commission is talking to the government of India to resume the service.”


14th August 2019

  • UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion, Ahmed Shaheed to visit Sri Lanka
    The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed, will carry out an official visit to Sri Lanka, from 15 to 26 August 2019. “I will look at how Sri Lanka promotes and protects the rights to freedom of religion or belief. The visit will be an opportunity for me to have an open exchange with the Government to try to gain a better understanding of how it upholds these rights,” Shaheed said. (LBO)


13th August 2019

  • Reports indicate SL’s Market stronger than given credit for
    Mark Mobius, the veteran investor who earned the moniker as the “father of emerging markets,” believes the outlook for both Sri Lanka’s bonds and equities, which currently have valuations at 10-year lows, will rise as the political situation improves. The CSE (Colombo Stock Exchange) is currently trading at 8.3 times earnings and the Sri Lanka Investable Universe of 305 stocks BF (blended forward) is 7.3 times earnings. Since 2014, South Asia has been the fastest growing subregion in the world, with its eight economies collectively boasting average annual growth of 7%. This is even higher than East Asia’s 6.2%. But Sri Lanka is still overlooked and under-researched by global investors, which means it might be an attractive opportunity for a limited time. (


12th August 2019

  • Assistant Secretary to meet Foreign Minister today
    The US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells who is in Sri Lanka while on a visit to the region will meet Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana today, the Government Information Department said. Acting Assistant Secretary Wells yesterday visited the St. Anthony’s Shrine in Kochchikade, one of the churches affected by the April bombings.
  • Tourism’s SMEs dismayed by state inefficiency
    The tourism industry is made up of 80 per cent of SMEs that have been adversely affected by the April attacks and are reported to close shop or resize in six months. Reports indicate that with no relief package to soften their woes, the soft loan offered by the government is hard to make use of as banks are not willing to take on the risk of financing SME tour operators or hoteliers at present. In this respect, Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) members will be pushing the government to intervene and underwrite the risk, Island Leisure Lanka Managing Director Chandana Amaradasa told the Business Times on Wednesday.(Sunday Times)


11th August 2019

  • Jacqueline in SL for Cinnamon’s BAFH campaign
    Bollywood star and former Miss Sri Lanka, Jacqueline Fernandez is visiting Sri Lanka this month as the first guest under Cinnamon’s ‘Bring a Friend Home’ (BAFH) campaign. This initiative by Cinnamon is to encourage Sri Lankans living here and overseas as well as expats in the country to nominate their foreign friends to visit the country. The hotel chain is hosting Jacqueline from August 10- 14.
    As a Sri Lankan herself who is proud to support the recovery of the tourism industry, Jacqueline is travelling to the island with 15 of her friends and family to celebrate her birthday and enjoy the vibrancy and diversity that Sri Lanka has to offer as a destination. (Sunday Times)
  • Sri Lanka to call for proposals to develop Dedduwa tourism zone
    Sri Lanka will seek proposals from consultants and developers to set up a tourism resort in Dedduwa, the cabinet office said. “It has been planned to develop the Dedduwa area as a tourist destination through public and private partnership,” a statement said. The government said that it is planning an ‘integrated tourism development project’. The government will obtain the services of a local or international consultancy agency with experience in transaction advisory services for large scale projects through an expression of interest, the cabinet office said.(ECONOMYNEXT)


10th August 2019

  • US Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs to visit Sri Lanka
    Alice Wells, US Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka this week to hold bilateral talks with senior government officials in the country.
    Acting Assistant Secretary Wells will hold bilateral consultations on issues of mutual interest with senior government officials in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and India, in addition to meetings with business leaders and civil society” the State Department said.


9th August 2019

  • Sri Lanka to ask online travel agencies to reduce commissions
    Sri Lanka Tourism Minister John Amaratunga is reported to have informed local reporters that he was to meet representatives of global online travel agencies in order to request that they reduce commissions for a limited period of time in a bid to get Sri Lanka’s tourism industry back on track.
  • Tourist arrivals cross 100,000 mark for first time since Easter attacks
    Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals crossed 100,000 mark for the first time since the April 21 bombings, as the arrivals for the month of July were recorded at 113,701, up from 63,072 in June, the data released by the tourism office showed. Europe became the largest source of tourist traffic to Sri Lanka with 50 percent of the total traffic received in July 2019. Asia and Pacific accounted for 38 percent of the total traffic, America 6 percent, the Middle East 5 percent and Africa one percent. India, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and China were Sri Lanka’s top five international tourist-generating markets in the month of July, this year. India was the largest source of tourist traffic to Sri Lanka with 16 percent of the total traffic received in July 2019. (Daily Mirror)


8th August 2019

  • Sri Lanka gives tourist hotels more time to pay development levy
    Sri Lankan tourist establishments hit hard by April bomb attacks which sharply reduced arrivals will be given more time to pay a one percent levy on turnover, the Cabinet office said. Tourist hotels and shops and travel agents registered with the Sri Lankan Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) have to pay one percent of turnover as the Tourism Development Levy. The Cabinet of ministers this week approved a proposal to suspend payment of the levy for six months from January 1, 2019 and to allow establishments to pay the arrears in 12 instalments, a statement said. (ECONOMYNEXT)
  • Faster opening of SLTPB Rep. Offices in key markets will quicken tourism revival
    German Ambassador Jörn Rohde this week declared that early opening of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Representative Offices in key markets will help quicken revival of the leisure industry post-Easter Sunday setback. Promotion Bureau Representative Offices will be set up in key markets. This move is very important to ensure a quicker revival of tourism. Over three months have passed and we would like to see the opening of such an office in Germany as soon as possible,” the Ambassador said. (Daily FT)


7th August 2019

  • Arrival stats for July show positive improvements
    According to the latest data from the Tourism Ministry, the total number of international tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka during July was 115,701, up from 63,072 reported in June 2019. While this is still a decline of 46.9% from last year, it remains a positive development. The largest source market for tourists in July was India, followed by the United Kingdom and Germany.
  • National Sustainable Tourism Certification Scheme launched
    A tree-planting campaign was launched along the Marine Drive in Colombo by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority this morning. The event marked the launch of the National Sustainable Tourism Certification Scheme, together with the Global Sustainable Development Council. The certificate will be awarded to leading hotels in the industry that have complied with global sustainability guidelines.(News first)


6th August 2019

  • Defence Ministry assures Sri Lanka’s safety
    Issuing a statement, the Defence Ministry has stated that special islandwide precautionary measures have been taken by the Tri-Forces, police and intelligence services together with other State security agencies to provide protection to places of worship, public places, tourist locations, State facilities, airports, ports, hospitals, etc. The Ministry further explained that these security arrangements have resulted in the arrests of those involved with the April Attacks. (
  • New Zealand Cricket team arrives in Sri Lanka for T20 matches
    New Zealand’s cricketers have arrived in Colombo for the T20 matches to be played shortly. The New Zealanders will open their tour with a three-day match against a Sri Lanka second string team in Katunayake from August 8 to 10 before the first Test in Galle from August 14 to 18. The second and final Test will be played at the P Sara Oval in Colombo from August 22 to 26 followed by the three T20 Internationals.


5th August 2019

    • List of countries eligible for free visa scheme.
      The following countries are eligible for the free visa program.
ChinaItalySlovak Republic
CyprusLatviaSouth Korea
Czech RepublicLithuaniaSpain
GermanyNorwayUnited Kingdom
GreeceNew ZealandUnited Sates of America
  • PM assures Sri Lanka is safe again.
    Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has assured travellers that the government has taken all “necessary precautions” by beefing up border security among other measures to ensure safe travel in Sri Lanka. The famous Esala Perahera in Kandy and other similar Buddhist peraheras in other areas during these two months would take place as usual, he said. In addition, the Hindu Vel festival in Jaffna and Colombo and the other Catholic festivals conducted at Tewatte, Talawila and Madhu churches would be held, he said. “Sri Lanka is on its way back on revival of tourism,” he said adding that tourists could avail themselves of concessions and rates that they may not get again any time soon. (Business Times)


4th August 2019

  • Singapore relaxes travel advisory to Sri Lanka
    Singapore has relaxed its Travel Advisory on Sri Lanka from defer all non-essential travels to exercise caution.
  • Hilton’s President for Asia Pacific says Sri Lanka’s tourism and leisure industry remains unstoppable.
    Hilton’s President for Asia Pacific, Alan Watts while visiting Colombo last week said he believed the island had the resilience to bounce back during this recovery phase and commended the Government on getting the message across that the country was safe once more. He noted that all Hilton operations were continuing as normal and expressed his belief that Sri Lanka’s tourism industry would be back at its normal levels of growth by this time next year.


3rd August 2019

  • CFW Swim Week hopes to relaunch Colombo’s international Appeal
    Colombo Fashion Week will host the ‘Celebrate Colombo’ Event from 3rd to 10th August with Swim Week Colombo runway shows taking place from 8th to 10th August. The event which showcases fashion, art, cuisine and music is supported by So Sri Lanka – the national campaign by Sri Lanka Tourism. OLU Swim Week Colombo will be partnering with three key hotels for the first time this season – Hilton Colombo, Galle Face Hotel and Shangri-La Colombo. “Swim Week Colombo is a strategic fashion development project which aims to showcase Sri Lanka as an expert in swim and resort wear. We want to showcase Sri Lanka as an international hub which drives the direction for swim and resort wear in the world. In addition to this, we also want to highlight Sri Lanka as a world class tourist destination for a tropical holiday” said Ajai Vir Singh, Founder and Managing Director of Colombo Fashion Week.
  • July Arrivals Down
    Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals for July were down 46.9 percent to 115,701 from a year earlier following the Easter Sunday attacks, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority said. The arrivals in July were an improvement from a 57 percent fall in June and a 71 percent fall in May. “The market has significantly shown progress over the past few weeks and we are happy to notice that the occupancy rates are increasing in hotels across Sri Lanka,” SLTDA Director General Upali Ratnayake said. “Further, we are hopeful that the industry will have a satisfactory season from October onwards,” he said. (ECONOMYNEXT)


2nd August 2019

  • Sri Lanka tourist arrivals picking up; 80% increase in July from June
    Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman, Kishu Gomes said that Arrivals were picking up once again with a positive rate of recovery being shown. “In May our numbers went down to 37,000 tourists that was a daily average of 1260. But in June we managed to record a month on month growth of almost 67%. Our numbers went up to 63,000 in June and in July with the actual numbers we recorded up to 25th and the forecast we have done for the rest of the month, the realistic number is going to be 117,000 so from June to July the percentage increase would be over 80%. So by all means it is a good rate of recovery and if you compare our rate of recovery with the recoveries that have been made by some of the other destinations following similar calamities we can all be happy that our progress is much better than the progress the other countries have been able to achieve,” he said.
  • Nepalese billionaire expresses confidence in Sri Lanka
    Binod Chaudhary, the Nepalese billionaire and owner of its biggest multinational conglomerate CG Corp Group with investments in Sri Lanka, this week expressed confidence that the island nation can rebound faster post-Easter Sunday setback but requires united action by all stakeholders. “We are here to stay. I am a great believer of Sri Lanka. What happened on Easter Sunday is certainly tragic but I think the country has seen worst in the past when I first invested in Sri Lanka. I am confident that Sri Lanka will put 21 April behind and move on resiliently. Positives of Sri Lanka far outweigh the negatives of Easter Sunday setback,” Binod told the Daily FT in an interview. (Daily FT)