The Sri Lankan tourism sector has witnessed a remarkable growth in the 11 months of 2023, with cumulative tourist arrivals reaching 1.27 million, generating a revenue of $1.8 billion. Latest data from the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) reveals a substantial 78.3% increase in income generated by tourism from January to November 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.
The data highlights a notable surge in revenue earned from tourism in November 2023, amounting to $205.3 million, more than doubling the figures from November 2022. Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry, expressed optimism about a surge in tourist arrivals in 2024, while addressing the parliament. Xinhua reported. He attributed the rise in tourism to the introduction of more airlines into the country.
November 2023 saw Sri Lanka welcoming 151,496 international tourists, marking the highest monthly number of visitors for the year. Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority reported cumulative tourist arrivals of 1.27 million until November 2023, emphasising the significance of tourism as one of the country’s top foreign revenue generators.
To boost tourism in the upcoming season, the government, in late October, waived visa fees for nationals from India, China, Indonesia, Russia, Thailand, Malaysia and Japan. This strategic move aims to enhance Sri Lanka’s appeal as a preferred tourist destination, fostering growth through the tourism sector.
The Foreign Affairs Minister said in a statement said that visa-free travel for these countries will be carried out as a pilot project effective until March 31, 2024.
Tourists from these countries will be able to obtain visas when visiting Sri Lanka, without a fee. India is traditionally Sri Lanka’s top inbound tourism market. In September 2023, arrival figures from India topped with over 30,000 Indian tourists visiting the neighbouring country.
Tourist arrivals to the island nation slumped since the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings that left 270 persons, including 11 Indians dead and over 500 injured. A recent economic crisis in Sri Lanka recently, prompted by acute shortage of essential items like food, medicine, cooking gas and other fuel, toilet paper and even matches.
Source : CNBC