July 3, 2019 / 12:46 PM / 5 months ago

Tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka nosedive in May, June after bombings

FILE PHOTO: Sri Lankan military officials stand guard in front of the St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade church after an explosion in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 21, 2019. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka fell sharply in May and June from a year ago, as visitors shunned the Indian Ocean island after the Easter Sunday attacks, the tourism bureau said on Wednesday.

Foreign visitor arrivals in May fell 70.8% to 37,802 compared with 129,466 a year ago, the lowest level since the end of the civil war a decade ago.

Arrivals in June fell 57% to 63,072 versus 146,828 a year ago, data released by the tourism bureau showed.

Tourist traffic for the first half of the year from January to June was down by 13.4 percent.

Suicide bombers attacked churches and luxury hotels across the island killing more than 250 people, including 42 foreign nationals. Several countries issued travel advisories soon after the attack.

A collapse in tourism would deal a severe blow to the island’s economy and financial markets.

Tourism was Sri Lanka’s third largest and fastest growing source of foreign currency last year, after private remittances and textile and garment exports, accounting for almost $4.4 billion (£3.5 billion) or 4.9 percent of gross domestic product in 2018.

Reporting by Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal; Writing by Aditi Shah; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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