2023 has marked a triumphant chapter for Sri Lanka’s tourism industry; a return to 1 million visitors by September and a total of 1.5 million anticipated for the year. With rebranding for a strong country brand to be launched at WTM, enhanced trade partnerships and collaboration, and a substantial Global Tourism Brand marketing budget for 2024 the destination looks set for further growth in 2024.
Despite the challenges that loomed at the beginning of the year, including an economic downturn, dollar deficits, and commodity price hikes, Sri Lanka’s resilient and resourceful government efficiently managed the situation, swiftly putting the nation back on its feet. This positive turn of events ushered in a reinvigorated tourism sector including the operation of new airlines with improved airline connectivity and increased cruise calls. In September a notable milestone was achieved as Sri Lanka welcomed its one millionth tourist arrival.
Sri Lanka’s tourism industry has proven its competitive edge, especially compared to regional counterparts such as the Maldives, India. The UK, Germany, France and Russia are the primary source markets driving growth. The positive trend continues, and Sri Lanka remains optimistic about surpassing its annual target of 1.5 million tourists by the year-end.
At WTM, Sri Lanka is poised to unveil a new brand for tourism. The “check-in” campaigns, already underway, will pave the way for a “thematic” campaign in the coming year, 2024. Its primary objective is to attract more visitors from key markets through these strategic campaigns while championing sustainable tourism initiatives. Visitors to WTM can find out more at the opening ceremony of the stand, press conference and networking event.
“The Ministry and the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau’s paramount focus is to create a robust country brand through a comprehensive rebranding exercise, highlighting Sri Lanka’s unique assets. To achieve this, we will prioritise the key source markets through year-round digital and PR campaigns, with a particular emphasis on the UK” commented the Hon. Minister of Tourism, Harin Fernando “Ongoing promotions will introduce new initiatives to maintain a competitive edge for the destination” he added.
The UK is traditionally an important market for Sri Lanka. British visitors enjoy the unique culture, many historical sites, wildlife, diverse gastronomy and tea plantations with their British architectural style.
Sri Lankan Airlines, the national carrier, is gearing up to extend its routes, connecting more UK cities and other key destinations, thereby providing travellers with convenient access to Sri Lanka. Details of these expansion plans will be unveiled shortly.
Enhanced Partnerships and Collaboration were secured in 2023, through country partner status with key travel associations such as ABTA and the ITAA, while maintaining a longstanding relationship with Antor. These affiliations strengthen Sri Lanka’s rapport with the UK travel trade and allow it to deepen relationships with influential media outlets and journalists through collaborative efforts.