Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sri Lanka tourist arrivals overtake Maldives

Dec 19, 2012 (LBO) - Sri Lanka's tourist arrivals which rose 16.5 percent to 883,353 in the 11 months to November 2012 from a year earlier, has outstripped that of Maldives which welcomed 866,310 tourists up only 2.4 percent.

Sri Lanka has experienced a tourism boom since the end of a war in 2009, while the Maldives has seen political turmoil and also a more up market model dependent on Europe which has taken a hit with economic troubles in the region.

Analysts say Sri Lanka has an inclusive tourist industry more in the style of an egalitarian capitalist-liberal model embracing less-affluent tourists, with many small hotels mushrooming up and boosting competition.

Maldives has a feudal-artisan type model catering to affluent customers. Many Sri Lankans work in the Maldives industry and Sri Lanka hotel groups also run resorts.

Before the birth of capitalism in the West with industrialization and mass production, goods were painstakingly hand-made by artisans priced at many months of their own salary that could only be afforded by rich aristocrats.

But with the birth of capitalism, the workers of businesses could themselves afford the output of their own workplace, whether it was clothing or a model T-Ford, and more recently a mobile phone or a budget air ticket.

Internet booking engines such as Agoda.com has seen an explosion of new listings from Sri Lanka in the past two years which can be directly purchased by independent travellers, especially from areas like Hikkaduwa, a smaller version of Bali or Penang.

Such tourists spots date their origins to the so-called 'hippie trail' of the 1960 and 70s made up of small business owners and budget travellers.

The phenomenon revolutionized global tourism before the advent of privately owned budget airlines when air travel was constrained by state-run full service carriers.
The 'hippie trail' died down after the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union.

Visitors from Britain fell 13.8 percent to 7,164 in November to the Maldives.

Tourists from Germany fell 13.2 percent to 8,729 and from Italy by 35.9 percent to 3,551, data from the Maldives tourist promotion office showed.

But Sri Lanka saw a 16.6 percent rise in German visitors to 8,161 in November while visitors from UK rose 12.9 percent to 10,828.

Some of Sri Lanka's up market hotels have been offering credit card discounts in December, usually the peak season. Up market hotels have expensive infrastructure, despite tax breaks and building materials imported duty free.

Chinese arrivals rose 9.2 percent to 18,450, a trend also seen in Sri Lanka.

>> Source

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