SA Tourism sets sights on Sri Lanka

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With Sri Lanka showing encouraging signs as a source market for South Africa, South African Tourism’s Mumbai office is paying attention to its possibilities.

Hanneli Slabber, Country Manager: India, says Sri Lanka will be included in next year’s annual South African trade roadshow of India.

Statistics make a strong case for a focus on this new market, which although generating a low amount of travellers, has shown good growth since 2009.  Back then South Africa recorded 1 792 Sri Lankan arrivals, which by 2016 had increased to 3 026.

According to Slabber, some 80%-95% of the Sri Lankan population of 22 million is employed.  “Importantly, Sri Lanka has just passed the $10 000 GDP (R128 075) per capita benchmark often seen as the tipping point for purchasing power and the growth of the middle class in emerging markets,” she states. “As average income levels in Sri Lanka continue to grow through 2020 and beyond, demand for international travel is sure to increase.”

Potential is seen in the 52% of Sri Lankans who fall into the 25 – 65 age group and the 42% between the ages of 25 -54 years. A propensity to travel is already visible in the 8% - 10% of Sri Lankans that currently study abroad. 

It makes sense, says Slabber, to drive brand awareness and aspiration for South Africa as a wildlife and adventure destination in the Sri Lankan market. 

Slabber states that small bases with dramatically increasing annual percentage increases are characteristic of emerging markets such as this one. The table below indicates growth since 2009. “There has been a clear incline in numbers with a brief drop in 2014 and 2015 and a growth spurt again last year, a wave which we hope to ride on over the next few years,” she says.

 

2009

1,792

2010

2,447

2011

2,593

2012

2,897

2013

2,762

2014

2,540

2015

2,105

2016

3,026