Sri Lanka Tourist Boom Boosts Beer Sales!

Strong tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka have boosted beer sales, with demand brimming over during the high season in popular tourist spots, the island’s top beer maker said.

Sri Lanka has seen a strong increase in budget tourists who interact directly with the small businesses and enterprises.
“Unlike in the past, tourists are not confining themselves to the formal hotel sector,” Chief Executive of Lion Beer (Ceylon) Plc Suresh Shah told shareholders in the annual report.

“They are seeking alternate accommodation options from high end villas to less expensive rooms in the informal sector.

“These trends are clearly reflected in the sales of Your Company’s brands through the retail and on-premise trade in tourist pockets. Volumes through these channels pick up sharply during the tourist “season”.”

“Overall, tourism contributed significantly to Your Company’s sales performance.”

Shah said the high margins maintained on beer sales by star classed hotels meant that those tourists prefer to obtain more beer from retailers in the vicinity.

Analysts say more reasonable prices would also make tourists consume more products and also make them stay longer.

Though high end tourism also contributes to the economy, budget travellers can transform the bottom-of-the-pyramid of an economy.

Unlike the high-end formal sector which operates with tax free building materials and even vehicles brought tax free or tax slashed, the budget sector operates on three wheelers and cars and vans brought paying high taxes.

High end tourism also operates on a pre-capitalist ‘feudal-artisan’ model where only the rarefied upper echelons of society could afford their services.

During feudal times artisans produced well turned out goods which potentially took months or years of a salary of a skilled worker to buy and were consumed only by the nobility or merchant class.

But under capitalism a factory worker could buy a model T Ford or an apparel worker the shirt or skirt, unlike 17th century seamstresses.

Budget travel is also built on a true-capitalist free-market model which could be consumed by the workers in that segment of that business.

Freemarket capitalist-style travel began in the 1960s and 1970s when Britain’s Indiaman and Swagman tours started taking people across Europe, over Middle East towards Asia by bus at a time when airlines were nationalized and under the control of rulers.

They pioneered the so-called ‘hippie-trail’ which gave birth to modern day tourist hotspots.

The trail ran from Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Nepal, India (Goa) and then to Thailand, Malaysia (Penang), Vietnam (Hoi An), Indonesia (Bali) and eventually to Australia.
Sri Lanka’s Hikkaduwa was also an off-shoot of the trail.

The hippie trail started with no discriminatory or coercive state involvement as a true people driven capitalist endeavour where people from ‘foreign’ countries also set up hotels and restaurants with little or no economic nationalism.

Mass market tourism boosted people-to-contact, undermining nationalist divisions and hate and prejudices, analysts say.

Though the hippie trail broke up with revolution in Iran and the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, the emergence of people-owned budget airlines as well as internet booking engines had given the sector a new lease of life.