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Sri Lanka attracts 209,181 tourists in March 2024

India with 31,853 tourists in March 2024 secured the top source market for Sri Lanka, followed by Russia with 28,016,  the UK coming in 3rd with 21,540 and Germany and China taking the 4th and 5th positions producing 18,324 and 12,865, respectively.


On a positive note; this marks the fourth consecutive month, (since November 2023), where the monthly total arrivals exceeded 200,000. On a not so positive note; March’s actual total arrivals fell short of the monthly target of 236,350 - similar to the shortfalls during past three months. 


March with 31 days attracted 4.2% less visitors than the preceding 29-day February which drew 218,350 visitors. The performance in March 2024 is 10.4% lower compared to the 233,382 in the benchmark year 2018. That’s room for some apprehension on the challenges that lie ahead.


Cumulatively, the 1st quarter of 2024, (January – March) has produced 635,784 arrivals, with India maintaining its position as the top tourist source market for Sri Lanka year-to-date (YTD), with a total of 96,279 arrivals, followed by Russia with 91,205, the UK with 58,819, Germany with 48,176 and China producing 39,212.


Most destinations within the Asia Pacific region are rebounding strongly and moving closer to pre-pandemic levels, but one question still remains – where have all the Chinese travelers gone?


In Q1 2019, Sri Lanka received a total 78,213 Chinese visitor compared to 39,212 In Q1 of 2024. This represents a 50 % drop between the arrivals this year when compared with 2019 same period and it is a 52% dip over the total 81,305 Chinese travelers, received in 2018.


Before the pandemic:  the Chinese were the biggest spenders in international travel and many destinations have relied on the Chinese market to fill their hotel rooms.


Post –pandemic: those (Chinese) who are 30 and under had only ever seen growth and progression. Now they have seen Covid, unemployment, wage cuts and job cuts which they have never experienced before and that obviously has had an impact on discretionary spending.


Oman Air will cease flights to Colombo from April 2024 as part of its restructuring plans whilst focusing on rightsizing and repositioning the company for future growth by 2027. There are 31 airlines that fly to Colombo as of March 2024.


Meanwhile, The UK has updated its Travel Advisory for Sri Lanka, effective April 5, 2024, due to Sri Lanka's economic progress. The revision covers various areas such as emergency medical services, entry security, road safety, overall security, & health facility access. This aims to ensure tourists have a clear understanding of Sri Lanka’s current progress and its updated advisory is expected to further boost Sri Lanka’s tourism sector.


Hospitality Sri Lanka



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