2018, A Year in Review

Regionally, Asia Pacific continued to dominate with almost 50 per cent of tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka.

tourist-arrivals-sri-lanka-2018-regionThe Asia-Pacific region continues to be the number one regional source of tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka in 2018 with a 47% share of the total tourist numbers visiting in 2018. Noticeably, this is down 3% on the last two years when the region was responsible for 50% of Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals.

The European region has grown 4.4% compared to its market share in 2016 and is now responsible for 44% of arrivals. The Americas region has seen growth, particularly over the last year, increasing from 5% market share in 2016 (104,000 visitors) to 6% in 2018 (138,000 visitors). Meanwhile, the Middle East has decreased 2.2% to a 3% market share. Visitor numbers from Africa have remained constant at 0.6% of total visitors.


Top three source markets provide almost 1 million visitors, 40% of total.



Within the top ten source markets, Australia saw the largest increase in visitors, with arrivals up 36.5% on the year before. Visitors from the United States were up 31% compared to 2017 levels while the United Kingdom increased 25.9%. Visitor numbers were down 4.1% from Maldives and 1.1% from China.

In 2018, India was the largest source market by a significant margin with 425,000 visitors, up 10.5% on 385,000 arrivals in 2017.

The second largest source market was China, with 266,000 visitors, a slight decrease of 1.1% compared to 269,000 visitors in 2017.

Closely following China was the United Kingdom as the third-largest market. Arrival numbers from the UK increased by a quarter, up 25.9% on 2017 levels to reach 254,000 visitors.

Together, visitors from the top three source markets totaled 945,000 arrivals, 40% of Sri Lanka’s total visitor numbers for 2018.

The 4th, 5th, and 6th largest source markets all surpassed 100,000 arrivals.  Numbers from Germany increased 20.5% to reach 157,000 visitors, Australia was up a huge 36.5% to 111,000 visitors, driven by an increase in direct flights. Meanwhile, France recorded a smaller increase in arrivals, up 9.4% to 106,000 visitors.

The 7th largest source market was the Maldives (76,000 arrivals), followed by United States (75,000 arrivals), Russian Federation (64,000 arrivals) and Netherlands (57,000 arrivals).

With a combined total of 1.6 million, the top ten source markets provided almost 70% of Sri Lanka’s 2.3 million total visitor numbers for 2018.


Tourist Arrivals by Month

A look back at the last five years and the events that have shaped visitor number growth.



Source: Data in this article is taken from the SLTDA’s published statistics.

Hospitality Insider Issue 4