Despite the domestic problems and the economic crisis in the middle, Sri Lanka still managed to get more than 700,000 tourists in the year 2022. While this turn of events was not easy on this island nation, they have done remarkably well. Here is a brief analysis of Srilanka tourism statistics in 2022.
The Economic turmoil created a negative impact on Srilanka Tourism
There is no doubt that the economic and civil crisis in the island caused a drop in tourist visits. But to what extent ?
It is important to note that though SriLanka’s economic turmoil has been brewing from 2019, it was further exacerbated by the pandemic as tourism accounts for 12% of Srilanka’s GDP.
When we analyse Srilanka tourism statistics of 2022, Jan (82k), Feb (96k), March(106k) Srilanka was well on the path to recovery from COVID with record tourists. If we take even the average of these three months (94k) and extrapolate that for the whole year, SriLanka would have welcomed 1.1 million inbound tourist.
But the total number was just 700k, this was a really low number and derailed the island’s path to recovery. By April, there was a decline in number but there still were 62,000 people arriving here to enjoy this country. But the next six months hardly managed to find 50,000 tourists with a steady average of at least 28,000 per month.
There is no doubt that the economic crisis from April created a major blow to the tourism industry. The industry which was slowly progressing saw a sharp decline during these difficult times. As the crisis and domestic issues were sorted out, there was an increase in the number of tourists from October onwards. By the end of December, the numbers were on the rise with the holiday season registering 91,961 tourists coming in.
Given the importance of tourism to the economy and livelihoods of 15 percent of the population, Fernando said in future, this “critical function” should be outsourced to a professional outfit.
Tourism has been Sri Lanka’s third-largest foreign exchange-earner in 2019 bringing in an estimated $3.6 billion.
Srilanka tourism statistics 2022 vs 2021
As per the Sri Lanka tourism 2022 reports issued by SLTDA (Sri Lanka’s Tourism Development Authority), the total number of visitors on this island in 2022 was 719,978. This is a huge jump from the total number of 194,495 in 2021. The highest arrivals in 2022 were seen in March (106,500), followed by February (96,507) and December (91,961).
While it is India, the greatest market for tourism in Sri Lanka, until 2022, there has been a change in the scenario now. In the month of December, the greatest number of tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka was from Russia, and India is only second to this country. The number of tourists from Russia has increased when compared with 2021, the number of tourists from India saw a slight decrease.
There is an overall increase in tourists from other countries, especially from European countries. But the steep increase in tourist arrival is from countries such as Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia, etc.
As for the purpose of the visit, the SLTDA reveals that a huge majority of the visitors to Sri Lanka came here for pleasure or a vacation. The second major reason for a visit is calling on friends or relatives.
Srilanka’s plans to reclaim its tourism industry
Sri Lanka started 2022 optimistically as the ministry expected to have about 200,000 tourists per month. They would have achieved this goal if not for the economic crisis. The initial months showed a steady increase with March crossing the 100,000 mark. Because of the crisis, the tourism industry tried reviving it through various plans such as extending Srilanka visa validity for different types of visas, for citizens of certain nations.
SriLanka also expects to recover 1.5mn tourists in 2023, let us hope the country to recover to its previous glory
It will not be wrong to say that these efforts did pay off as evident by the statistics mentioned above.
Changes in Visa Status that affected Srilanka tourism statistics in 2022
Different types of visas have had changes since August 2022. These changes were aimed to increase the visitations from the most frequenting countries, especially India.
- Srilanka ETA or the tourist visa which you apply online now has a validity of up to 180 days. This increase in the number of days will be via an extension for the 30 days or 90 days visa. It means that a tourist arriving here on this visa can stay for almost 6 months.
- Single-entry visa holders will be allowed to stay up to 270 days.
- Tourists with a multiple entry visa can now stay for 90 days before they need to leave the country and can re-enter.
Apart from these changes in visa validity, the SLTPB or Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, conducted various roadshows in countries such as India to promote tourism. Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Delhi are the targeted cities for such promotions. The brand ambassador for this program will be the star cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya, who has been part of the phenomenal reason for the promotion of tourism in the country for the past few decades.
The Sri Lanka Can campaign has been successful enough to have an increase in tourists by the end of October.
Expectations for 2023
After the tremendous increase in tourists in 2022, Sri Lanka is now expecting almost 260,000 tourists in 2023, just from India. The plan is en route with over 102,545 tourists in January itself. In 2022, the figure was 82,327. February saw 107,639 tourists mainly from Russia, India, and the United Kingdom.
This back-to-back arrival of more than 100,000 tourists in the first two months of 2023 shows a positive trend. While March has only been a few days, there are already an average of 4000 visits per day. So far, the top countries that contribute to tourism are Russia, the UK, India and Germany
Owing to these increasing numbers, the tourism ministry will be kickstarting a promotional campaign which targets 9 countries that have been in the top 10 markets for tourism in Sri Lanka. These include India, Russia, the UK, Germany, France, and China. Planning is currently on to launch it by April or May. There will be both digital and PR campaigns in the respective countries.
As a boost to increase the economy with tourism, Sri Lanka now allows Indians to carry up to INR 10,000 to spend here. Interestingly, Russians will also be able to use Indian currency while in Sri Lanka, rather than using Ruble to ease the transactions. This step has been in lieu of the higher number of footfalls from the Russian Federation.
These above-mentioned statistics are incomplete. The data used here are taken from the Monthly Tourist Arrivals Reports2022 of SLTDA. The data for the year 2023 will be updated as and when the information is available from the government.