ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s monthly tourism revenue hit a four-year high in January 2024, official provisional data showed, the highest since February 2020 with the island nation’s hospitality industry has focused on earning more foreign exchange after an unprecedented economic crisis.
The tourism revenues in January recorded $341.8 million, more than doubled from a year earlier, as the arrivals have gradually picked up.
The island nation, populour for nature tourism as a lower cost, last saw above the January tourism revenue in February 2020 with an inflow of $391.1 million, the central bank data showed.
However, COVID pandemic followed by the economic crisis hit the industry and forced foreign visitors to choose other tourist destination.
The tourism revenue numbers are based on a survey conducted by the tourism promotion office and released by the central bank. In the past, the central bank has reduced the revenue figures sharply with more accurate data.
Sri Lanka’s 2023 tourism revenues jumped over 80 percent to $2.1 billion from $1.1 billion in the previous year, official data show.
The total foreign visitors to the island nation in 2023 were 1,487,303, which is 106.6 percent up from 719,978 recorded in 2022.
Sri Lanka has aimed for 2.2 million tourist for this year with an estimated revenue of $3.5 million.
January 2024 arrivals also more than doubled to 208,243, compared to the last year’s 102,545.
The revival of tourism industry and arrivals after the COVID pandemic were hit by violence in the June quarter of 2022 after then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s supporters brutally attacked unarmed protesters on May 9 to evict them from two prolonged protest sites in capital Colombo.
Later, the violence spread throughout the country with some targeted ruling politicians and damaged their houses and properties.
The uncertainty after the change of the country’s president in an unprecedented manner also took a toll on the leisure industry which contributed 5% of the gross domestic product (GDP) at its peak. (Colombo/Feb 9/2024)