Sri Lanka will soon resume flights from Jaffna to India, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Tuesday, June 14 as he asked tourism authorities to draw up plans to attract more Indian tourists.
The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority said it has plans to attract 800,000 tourists during the rest of the year.
Sri Lanka’s national carrier – Sri Lankan Airlines along with Air India and IndiGo operate direct flights to Jaffna.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe instructed to resume flights from Jaffna’s Palaly airport to Indian destinations to facilitate travel. This was discussed during a meeting held with the industry stakeholders.
Jaffna is the capital city of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. It is the administrative headquarters of the Jaffna District located on a peninsula of the same name. With a population of 88,138 in 2012, Jaffna is Sri Lanka’s 12th most populous city.
The majority of the city’s population are Sri Lankan Tamils with a significant number of Sri Lankan Moors, Indian Tamils and other ethnic groups present in the city before the civil war. Most Sri Lankan Tamils are Hindus followed by Christians, Muslims and a small Buddhist minority.
India in May re-emerged as Sri Lanka’s top inbound tourist market with 5,562 arrivals while over 3,723 came from the UK.
However, the total number of international tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka in May plunged by almost 52%, in comparison to April and 72% in comparison to March.
The tourist arrivals have lessened due to the effects of the current economic and political situation in the country with main market countries issuing adverse travel advisories. Sri Lanka is currently facing its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948.
The economic crisis has prompted an acute shortage of essential items like food, medicine, cooking gas and other fuel, toilet paper, and even matches, with Sri Lankans being forced to wait in lines lasting hours outside stores to buy fuel and cooking gas.
The island nation’s economic downturn was largely blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic with the island nation’s tourism revenue and inward remittances waning.