Tourism in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka recorded a total of 2 million tourists in 2018, ranking 87th 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 0.11 tourists per resident, Sri Lanka ranked 144th in the world. In South Asia, it ranked 3rd.

Sri Lanka generated around 5.61 billion US Dollar in the tourism sector alone. This corresponds to 6.7 percent of its the gross domestic product.



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Development of the tourism sector in Sri Lanka from 1995 to 2018

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 million USD, or about 2.8 percent of the gross national product. This corresponded to about 403,000 tourists at that time and roughly 911 USD per person. Within 23 years, the country's dependence on tourism has increased drastically. In the last year of the survey, the revenue now amounts to 5.61 billion USD, accounting for 6.3 percent of the gross national product. Each visitor now spends an average of 2,403 USD for his holiday in Sri Lanka.

Tourism receipts in Sri Lanka per year

All data for Sri Lanka in detail

YearNumber of touristsReceipts% of GNPReceipts per tourist
1995403,000367.00 m $2.8 %911 $
1996302,000282.00 m $2.0 %934 $
1997366,000351.00 m $2.3 %959 $
1998381,000369.00 m $2.3 %969 $
1999436,000414.00 m $2.6 %950 $
2000400,000388.00 m $2.4 %970 $
2001337,000347.00 m $2.2 %1,030 $
2002393,000594.00 m $3.6 %1,511 $
2003501,000709.00 m $3.8 %1,415 $
2004566,000808.00 m $3.9 %1,428 $
2005549,000729.00 m $3.0 %1,328 $
2006560,000733.00 m $2.6 %1,309 $
2007494,000750.00 m $2.3 %1,518 $
2008438,000803.00 m $2.0 %1,833 $
2009448,000754.00 m $1.8 %1,683 $
2010654,0001.04 bn $1.8 %1,596 $
2011856,0001.42 bn $2.2 %1,660 $
20121.01 m1.76 bn $2.6 %1,746 $
20131.28 m2.51 bn $3.4 %1,965 $
20141.53 m3.28 bn $4.1 %2,147 $
20151.80 m3.98 bn $4.9 %2,212 $
20162.05 m4.59 bn $5.6 %2,238 $
20172.12 m5.08 bn $5.8 %2,402 $
20182.33 m5.61 bn $6.3 %2,403 $


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