Sri Lanka enjoyed an all-time high number of tourists entering the country in 2017, according to data from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA). Just over 2.11 million people visited the country over the course of the year, a figure which represented a 3.2 per cent growth on the previous year’s figure.
The Authority says that this increased number of travellers was acquired despite serious set-backs. From January to April of 2017, Sri Lanka’s main airport Bandaranaike International Airport, was forced to partially close, meaning many airlines either scaled down or completely cancelled their flights into the country. Just weeks after the airport re-opened, the southern half of Sri Lanka experienced severe flooding that left many resorts cut off, garnering international press attention, something that SLTDA said had an adverse effect on forward bookings.
This was followed by an unprecedented dengue epidemic that was centred around the country’s capital city Colombo. It lasted several months, and again received international press attention. Further flooding and severe drought in the latter part of the year affected different areas of Sri Lanka, which again had an impact on bookings.
SLTDA said that arrivals in December grew from 224,791 in 2016 to 244,536 in 2017, which means that the winter season ahead is looking positive. Indians continue to be the demographic that visits Sri Lanka the most, with 384,628 tourists coming in 2017. Tourists from China and the UK make up the top three.