Sri Lanka tourism industry upbeat; 2015 arrivals rocket to 1.8 million

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Updated 04 February 2016

Sri Lanka tourism industry upbeat; 2015 arrivals rocket to 1.8 million

Sri Lanka received a record-breaking 1.8 million tourist arrivals in the island last year, climbing up a 17.8 percent from the previous year, according to statistics revealed by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA).
“While the year 2015 will go down in history as a watershed that saw Sri Lanka returning to its democratic ideals with the election of a new president followed by a new government, 2016 will usher in new challenges and targets,” said John Amaratunga, Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism development.
Further statistics from SLTDA, revealed that the top three sources of tourist arrivals were from India with 316,247 tourists visiting in 2015 recording a 30.3 percent rise over corresponding 2014 figures.
China came second with 214,783 arrivals in 2015, up by a 67.6 percent from last year. United Kingdom recorded the third highest number of visitors with 161,845, a 12.3 percent increase from the previous year.
Speaking at a recent event, SLTDA Director General Malraj Kiriella said that most travelers visit the island for its coastline, nature, people, religious and multi-cultural events and the authentic experience.
He also said Sri Lanka’s authenticity was what attracted at least 30 percent of tourists who were found to be repeated visitors to the country.
The island’s tourism industry is one of the main foreign exchange earners for Sri Lanka’s $78.6 billion economy. The garment and tea industries and remittances from expatriate workers account for most of the rest.
“My Ministry has set its sights on achieving the goal of making tourism the number one foreign exchange earner for Sri Lanka,” said Amaratunga.
Statistics from Sri Lanka Tourism confirmed that the cumulative earnings from tourism increased to $2,862.9 million during 2015 compared to $2,431.1 million recorded during 2014.
The new government led by President Maithripala Sirisena aims to reach a target of 2.2 million tourists by the end of 2016 and hopes to attract four million tourists by 2020.
Sri Lanka Tourism recently framed a broad strategic marketing plan for the year 2016, inviting private and public sector stakeholders to address long standing needs of the industry and the future potentials of the country as a tourism destination.
This new scheme came into effect for its contents to maximize the benefits to the tourism industry and to position Sri Lanka as the most preferred travel destination in Asia.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka has managed to fit into Lonely Planet Magazine’s Dream Trips ‘Top 10 destinations to visit in 2016’ list, describing the island “World’s most extraordinary places to add to your travel wish list”.
The recent Fox News roundup of the best off-the-radar destinations for 2016, also included the tropical island.
Sri Lanka being home to around eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites makes it a major attraction to foreign visitors. Other lures are the colonial ruins, sandy beaches, national parks, tea plantations, luxuriant greenery and serenity.
For a second consecutive year, Forbes picked Sri Lanka in another of its lists titled ‘The Best Places To Go In 2016: Tips From The World’s Hottest Luxury Travel Company’
Forbes stated that Sri Lanka finally settled and stable following the end of its brutal civil war in 2009 and the election of a new president in early 2015, this former British colony is increasingly piquing the interest of travelers, especially Americans, looking for something different.
The report went on to describe the island, “Rich in what Marchant calls ‘a real purity of product,’ the country offers verdant valleys (including Bogawantalawa Valley, known as the Golden Valley of Tea), elephants galore, and gorgeous lodges including two Aman resorts, along with idyllic beaches and a slew of terrific independent hotels.”

Investment and energy experts welcome ‘sensible’ Saudi Aramco IPO valuation

Updated 18 November 2019

Investment and energy experts welcome ‘sensible’ Saudi Aramco IPO valuation

  • Price regarded as a sensible compromise and that it will sell the IPO
  • Experts said the Aramco valuation was justified by the financial metrics

DUBAI: Investment professionals and energy experts delivered a mainly enthusiastic response to the pricing of shares in Saudi Aramco and the overall valuation of the biggest oil company in the world at between $1.6 trillion and $1.7 trillion.

Al Mal Capital, a Dubai-based investment bank, said that it was positive on the Aramco initial public offering (IPO) on that kind of valuation, which it said was justified by the financial metrics.

“We believe Aramco’s IPO is a central pillar of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. In our view, the broader privatization of state assets will likely accelerate the flow of foreign capital into the Kingdom, improve liquidity and transparency as well as continue to help diversify its economy away from its dependency on oil. While many investors were skeptical about the ability of Saudi Arabia to roll out its ambitious agenda, they seem to be right on track.”

Tarek Fadhallah, chief executive officer of Nomura Asset Management in the Middle East, said via Twitter: “My first impression is that the price is a sensible compromise and that it will sell the IPO. Aramco should easily raise the $8.5bn from retail investors but the 29 global coordinators, managers and financial advisers will need to find the other $17 billion. A few billion from China would help.”

Robin Mills, chief executive of the Qamar Energy consultancy, said; “I think it’s a reasonable compromise. The price is well above most independent valuations but well below the aspirational price. It implies dividend yields a bit lower than the super-majors (the independent oil companies), but a similar price earnings ratio (the measure of the share price rated according to profits). Retail and local investors should be sufficient. We’ll have to see about the foreign investors.”

Ellen Wald, energy markets consultant and author of the book Saudi, Inc., said American investor would still be undecided on the IPO. 

“Remember, investors don’t put money in because they think the value is accurate. Smart investors put money in because they think the value will rise. It all depends on whether they see signs the price will rise during their time frame.”

American oil finance expert David Hodson, managing director of BluePearl Management, said: “This valuation seems to be more reasonable based on the fundamentals. Potential investors in Western markets will base their decision on cold hard facts like dividends and growth prospects. From what we now know, Aramco is offering them a compelling investment proposition to consider.”