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Tourism in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka recorded a total of 2 m tourists in 2019, ranking 103rd in the world in absolute terms.

That smaller countries regularly perform lower in a comparison of the absolute number of guests, is obvious. By putting the tourist numbers in relation to the population of Sri Lanka, the result is much more comparable picture: With 0.092 tourists per resident, Sri Lanka ranked 153rd in the world. In South Asia, it ranked 4th.

Sri Lanka generated around 4.66 bn US Dollar in the tourism sector alone. This corresponds to 5.8 percent of its the gross domestic product and approximately 11 percent of all international tourism receipts in South Asia.

A global comparison can be found here › International tourism


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On average, each of the tourists arriving in 2019 spent about 2,014 US Dollars. Conversely, the inhabitants of Sri Lanka spend only around 1,480 dollars a year when they themselves spend vacations abroad.

Development of the tourism sector in Sri Lanka from 1995 to 2019

The following chart shows the number of tourist arrivals registered in Sri Lanka each year. Anyone who spends at least one night in the country but does not live there for more than 12 months is considered a tourist. Insofar as the survey included the purpose of the trip, business trips and other non-tourism travel purposes have already been excluded. The number of people passing through within the same day, and e.g. crew members of ships or flights are also not considered as tourists in most countries. If the same person travels in and out more than once within the same year, each visit counts again.

The red line represents the average of all 8 countries in South Asia.

Tourists per year in Sri Lanka

Revenues in tourism

In 1995, tourism revenues amounted to 367.00 m USD, or about 2.8 percent of the gross national product. This corresponded to about 414,000 tourists at that time and roughly 886 USD per person. Within 24 years, the country's dependence on tourism has increased noticeably. In the last year of the survey, the revenue now amounts to 4.66 bn USD, accounting for 5.6 percent of the gross national product. Each visitor now spends an average of 2,300 USD for his holiday in Sri Lanka.

Tourism receipts in Sri Lanka per year

All data for Sri Lanka in detail

YearNumberof touristsReceipts% of GNPIncome per tourist
20192.03 m4.66 bn $5.6 %2,300 $
20182.52 m5.61 bn $6.4 %2,225 $
20172.25 m5.08 bn $5.8 %2,261 $
20162.17 m4.59 bn $5.6 %2,118 $
20151.99 m3.98 bn $4.9 %1,996 $
20141.67 m3.28 bn $4.1 %1,969 $
20131.42 m2.51 bn $3.4 %1,771 $
20121.13 m1.76 bn $2.6 %1,550 $
2011976,0001.42 bn $2.2 %1,456 $
2010766,0001.04 bn $1.8 %1,363 $
2009538,000754.00 m $1.8 %1,401 $
2008526,000803.00 m $2.0 %1,527 $
2007592,000750.00 m $2.3 %1,267 $
2006689,000733.00 m $2.6 %1,064 $
2005669,000729.00 m $3.0 %1,090 $
2004681,000808.00 m $3.9 %1,186 $
2003583,000709.00 m $3.8 %1,216 $
2002457,000594.00 m $3.6 %1,300 $
2001397,000347.00 m $2.2 %874 $
2000445,000388.00 m $2.4 %872 $
1999465,000414.00 m $2.6 %890 $
1998409,000369.00 m $2.3 %902 $
1997384,000351.00 m $2.3 %914 $
1996315,000282.00 m $2.0 %895 $
1995414,000367.00 m $2.8 %886 $


All data correspond to the information of the World Tourism Organization.

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