The year 2017 was yet another year of positive growth with a +3.2% growth in arrivals over 2016. Total arrivals touched 2,116,407 vs the 2016 which was at 2,050,832. This was amidst the 2nd quarter of the year being impacted with heavy monsoonal rains causing floods and earth slips which resulted in severe cancellations and was a hindrance for forward bookings.
India continued to be the number 1 market with 384,628, a +7.8% growth followed by China which saw a marginal decline of -1.0% to 268,952. The demand from Western Europe continues to be high to Sri Lanka with UK, Germany, and France being the highest contributors after China. Traditionally, Sri Lanka as a destination has attracted Western Europeans due to the diversity of attractions the country has to offer and the warm and friendly nature of her people. All other Western European markets also recorded positive arrival figures. This is expected to continue in the future.
Interestingly, the arrivals from Australia increased to 81,281 (+9.1%), taking it to the 6th highest visitor numbers to the island nation. The market is expected to grow further in the light of direct flights opening from Colombo to Melbourne and the increased thrust in Australia by Sri Lanka promotions bureau to promote Sri Lanka as an ideal holiday destination. The Russian arrivals moved up marginally over the past year to 59,191. Travel from U.S.A and Canada continued to grow in 2017 with both markets falling within the top 10 source markets to Sri Lanka.
The year 2018 has commenced on a very positive note and industry leaders expect the year to end with a double digit growth in visitor arrivals.