Updated on June 4, 2022 by Axel Hernborg

Axel Hernborg

Sri Lanka has always been considered one of the best places to visit in the world. Whether you are there for vacation or to visit your family and friends, you will definitely leave the place with a lot of experiences and the need to go back yet again. Tourism in Sri Lanka is an important part of the country’s economy and with good reason. Because it is a place that tourists repeatedly go back to, it is able to make a lot of revenue for the government. Covid-19 shook the tourism industry in Sri Lanka as it did to the whole world but the country is continuing to find its foot in the global tourism industry yet again.

Statistics and trends in the Tourism industry in Sri Lanka before and after the pandemic

  1. In 2013, Sri Lanka was ranked by the Lonely Planet as the number one tourist destination.
  2. Forbes Magazine ranked Sri Lanka as one of the top ten coolest countries to visit in 2015.
  3. In 2016, Rough Guides, the New York Times, and The Guardian all pointed out Sri Lanka as a destination everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime.
  4. In 2019 in the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum, Sri Lanka was ranked out of one hundred and forty-one countries to be the seventy-seventh.
  5. The countries that had the most people traveling to Sri Lanka that year were France, the United Kingdom, and Germany.
  6. The travel and tourism industry in Sri Lanka is ranked as the country’s third-largest export earner. This is after textiles, remittances, and garments.
  7. Sri Lanka is currently experiencing continuous and immense growth in terms of international visitors.
  8. The average number of the international arrivals in Sri Lanka grows each year by more than 222%
  9. The tourism industry in Sri Lanka suffered a great loss in 2019 due to the Easter Terror attacks that happened in April of that year.
  10. In that year, the number of recorded tourists was almost two million, which was a decline from what had been recorded the previous year by 21%.
  11. The tourism industry of Sri Lanka earned roughly three and a half billion dollars that year.
  12. In 2020, the tourism industry recorded approximately five hundred and seventy thousand international arrivals.
  13. The tourism industry of Sri Lanka got crippled in 2020 due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
  14. In 2020, investment of any kind in the tourism industry was greatly limited.
  15. The projects that were able to get approved in the year were only amounting to roughly sixty-six million dollars.
  16. Tourism offers both trades as well as investment opportunities in Sri Lanka.
  17. Tourism accounts for a large percentage of Sri Lanka’s total employment because the industry leads to a lot of job opportunities in various areas such as hotels, restaurants, and resorts.
  18. The Airports for commercial traffic in Sri Lanka got closed down in the month of March 2020.
  19. The lockdown all over the world led to a lot of key players in tourism in Sri Lanka such as hotels and restaurants shutting down.
  20. A lot of people who were working in the tourism industry lost their jobs and ability to cater to themselves and their families.
  21. There are few conglomerates found locally that control the majority of the luxury resort hotels in Sri Lanka.
  22. The restaurant industry was seeing tremendous growth due to the subsequent growth in the tourism industry in the country before the pandemic hit.
  23. The bio bubble concept was introduced in Sri Lanka in January 2021. The bio bubble acts as a waiver for the standard quarantine requirements for all leisure travelers. What this means is that the tourists are allowed to leave their hotel rooms or villas, with the conditions that they not only stay at the hotels that have been approved but also restrict themselves from having any kind of interactions with the local community.
  24. The tourists who have been fully vaccinated can go against the bio bubble because they are given the authority to freely travel throughout Sri Lanka as long as they have a PCR test performed immediately on arrival and the results are negative.

The trends in the various sub-sectors of the tourism industry in Sri Lanka

  1. Boutique hotels are becoming more famous in the country. This can be attributed to the fact that most hotels want to customize their services as much as they can for their customers.
  2. Domestic tourism is being promoted greatly by the tourism industry in Sri Lanka because to allow the country to make as much revenue as it can from the industry.
  3. The tourism industry is offering long-term opportunities for suppliers from all around the world in a number of areas such as technology, hotel equipment, consultancy services, water purification systems, food and beverage, and even bathroom accessories.
  4. The hotel sector is upgrading and getting expanded continuously owing to the borders being opened yet again for more tourists.
  5. Both the domestic and international restaurants are expanding in terms of their operations.

Emerging statistics and trends in Sri Lanka tourism

  1. As of 2022, Sri Lanka has been experiencing an economic crisis that is proving to affect tourism, which was already struggling to come back from the pandemic.
  2. The state in Sri Lanka is getting worse as the days go by as the country faces power cuts daily and the citizens can only access cooking gas and fuel by standing in long queues. It is no longer the country that was swarming with tourism-friendly environments.
  3. There has been a rise in inflation and this has forced the Sri Lanka government to tighten the restrictions it had even more on imports so that they can exacerbate shortages. This is keeping tourists away.
  4. The inflation makes the cost of living quite high and puts off tourists from visiting the place.
  5. Although tourists are preferring not to go to Sri Lanka, the government needs them as the revenues they generate would play a big role in the repayment of all the foreign loans that the country has.
  6. The hotel industry in tourism is also getting greatly affected by the economic state of the nation. The power shortages in the country are affecting tourist restaurants as well and that is turning tourists away. The cuisines are no longer as possible as they used to be because the fishermen are facing the challenge of getting fuel to go fishing. As much as the country is desperate for tourists, they do not have the capacity to cater to them efficiently.
  7. Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is also getting affected by the war between Ukraine and Russia.
  8. Most of the visitors to Sri Lanka since the pandemic started have been from the Eastern bloc.
  9. Russia and Ukraine have collectively brought in 25% of the total international arrivals in Sri Lanka.
  10. The Western sanctions on Russia, for example, the ban that was implemented on the SWIFT international payment system have affected Sri Lanka as well.
  11. The Russian tourists in Sri Lanka have had to get their bookings canceled despite already being in the country because they could neither withdraw money nor use their cards.
  12. Other countries are warning their citizens against going to Sri Lanka due to their shortages and economic situation such as the UK government.
  13. The head of Sri Lanka Tourism has reported that they have not had any inquiries from the Middle Eastern and United Kingdom markets after the United Kingdom issued the warning against tourists going to Sri Lanka.
  14. Tourist vehicles are being given priority when it comes to getting fuel but this has angered the locals because they have to stand in the queue for so long before they get attended to and they do not find it fair.
  15. The Sri Lanka tourism industry is short in its labor force.
  16. The lack of employees got even worse after the pandemic as the few people who were working in the industry opted to go to other industries after seeing how bad the industry had tanked due to Corona Virus.
  17. The pay structure in the tourism sector has also been seen to be majorly flawed. Due to the shortage of tourists, the staff is hardly getting any money and this is driving more of them away, leaving the industry not having enough skilled employees as well as not having any other individuals interested in getting into that line of work.
  18. There is also a prevailing food shortage in the country which has led to the citizens protesting on the streets. This is not great for the tourist industry.
  19. The medical sector has also been affected by the economic industry and this has lowered the arrival of the medical tourists. There is not enough medical equipment for the locals, leave alone tourists.
  20. The shortage of food is forcing the tourist hotel to cut down on the food options they offer which are turning away tourists.
  21. There is also an increase in the general unrest in the country due to political issues and an unstable political nation is not a place tourists would want to go.
  22. Sri Lanka has a long way to go before the tourism industry can go back to how it was.
  23. The country is looking into getting an IMF loan to be able to stabilize its economy and also bring back its good reputation in the tourism industry.