Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals grew in 2010 by almost 50% over the previous year, hitting 654,000 visitors.
Leisure & Tourism sector in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals grew in 2010 by almost 50% over the previous year, hitting 654,000
visitors. The Sri Lankan Government is aiming to reach 2.5 million visitors by 2016.
Tourism is one of Sri Lanka’s fastest growing industries. The Government’s goal is to make it
the country’s single largest foreign exchange earner by 2020 – it is currently the sixth.
Economic development momentum started to gather pace in 2009, following the end of the three
decade civil war. GDP has grown consistently over the past few years by an average of 7-8%.
Tourism industry development objectives for 2011-2016 include:
ξ Increasing tourist arrivals by up to 400%, to 2.5m visitors.
ξ Attracting USD 3,000m to the industry as Foreign Direct Investment.
ξ Quadrupling current tourism-related employment and expanding tourism industry services
across the island.
ξ Increasing foreign exchange earnings from USD 500m to USD 2.75 bn.
ξ Using tourism to improve global trade and economic linkages.
The Government is enhancing Sri Lanka’s attractiveness to foreign investors by tackling
potential barriers to trade such as, initiating a one-stop-shop facility called UNIT (Unit for
National Investment in Tourism) to streamline and speed up investment approvals processes.
The Government aims to capitalise on the country’s natural advantages of forests, wildlife,
mountains, waterfalls, unspoilt beaches, its strong and unique cultural heritage as well as
contemporary tourist attractions such as luxury Ayurveda spas.
Hotels & Projects
With an expected 400% growth in tourist arrivals by 2016, the industry needs to at least double
current hotel room capacity within that time.
Opportunities for UK companies can be in the form of direct investments, independent
ownership of facilities or joint ventures. There is scope for provision of goods, design services
and engineering consultancy services. Pipeline tourism projects include not only hotels, but also:
ξ Golf courses
ξ Theme parks
ξ Shopping Malls
ξ Adventure Sports
ξ Light Aircraft Services and Sea Planes
ξ Boat Manufacturing / Hiring
ξ Convention / Exhibition Centres
ξ Gaming Centres
UK companies may also be interested in investing in premium rate boutique hotels, catering for
high spending tourists that Sri Lanka is targeting as opposed to mass market customers.
UK companies in the tourism industry supply chain will find a healthy market in Sri Lanka for
their goods and services.
Developing Tourism Industry Professionals
Significant opportunities exist for UK education and training providers to tie up with local
universities, industry partners, private sector education institutes, or training providers to deliver
short-term programmes and/or professional qualifications.
The Sri Lankan Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (a Government agency) has an
annual output of approximately 1500 graduates - insufficient to meet industry requirements. The
private sector needs to step in to fill the gap.
New Tourism & Economic Zones
Opportunities exist for UK engineering, construction, suppliers and consultants, for both existing
and pipeline projects.
Substantial infrastructure projects are underway for the development of tourism zones on the
Southern, Western and Eastern coastal belt.
Sri Lanka’s Global Appeal
UK media companies might benefit from the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau’s ‘visiting
UK tour and adventure companies could also gain by tying up with local partners - broadening
their customer base and increasing their product offering.
Sri Lanka is also a renowned filming location. Films partly or entirely shot in Sri Lanka include
the Oscar winning 1957 film – The Bridge on the River Kwai, Indiana Jones: The Temple of
Doom, The Second Jungle Book, and Oscar- nominated Water. Sri Lanka has also been a
location choice for international television productions and more recently for music videos too.
Finally, UK event management or promotional companies looking for new overseas locations for
international/ regional events, exhibitions, concerts, etc. might also consider Sri Lanka, a unique
and cost-effective option.
The country has recently hosted major events such as the ICC World Cup, SAF Games,
International Indian Film Awards and beach games. It has also hosted concerts for international
artistes such as Sir Cliff Richards, UB40, Bryan Adams, RIO, Edward Maya, Mohombi, Sasha
Lopez and Jay Sean.
Latest export opportunities in Leisure & Tourism
Latest export opportunities – Sri Lanka
Getting into the market
Information about doing business in Sri Lanka can be found in our Business Guide.
Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke
market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market
Introduction Service (OMIS).
To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists
in country - or contact your local international trade team.
British High Commission, Colombo
Tel: +94 11 5390664
British High Commission, Colombo
Tel: +94 11 5390661
Contact your local international trade team
UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to
overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.
Latest events Sri Lanka
Latest events – Leisure & Tourism
More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters