Tourism Statistics in Sri Lanka

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The chapter explains statistics related to tourism in Sri Lanka, for the period between 2005 and 2016. The chapter illustrates revenue patterns, the age groups of visitors, and the yearly population of the tourists respective of their origin. Data concerning the dwelling period of tourists and their reasons for touring Sri Lanka is also explained.

Summary of the Results

Table 1 indicates that the revenue from foreign tourism gradually increased between 2008 and 2016. Yale National Park recorded the highest average revenue (Rs .570,466.3) in 2016, while it recorded the lowest average revenue in 2008 (Rs. 27,707.4). In 2016, Undalawa National Park was second in the average revenue (Rs. 259,983.3), followed by Wilpattu National Park, which indicates a total revenue of Rs. 33670.9. However, Kaulana Bird Sanctuary had the lowest visitation in 2016, with an average of 8763.1 foreign tourists. In 2008, only Yale and Undalawa National Park were registered- other parks had a total average cumulative revenue of Rs. 38,488.7 foreign tourists. The total revenues collected from the tourists’ visitations also increased gradually between 200 and 2016. The highest revenue collected was Rs. 1,445,966.5 in 2016, while the lowest collection was observed in 2008 (Rs. 84,419.6). Yale National Park had the highest contribution to the total annual revenue. The park contributed nearly 45% of the total annual revenue.

Table 2 depicts that in 2015, North American tourists stayed for the longest time (14.2 days) while Latin Americans stayed for the shortest time (8.1 days). In 2015, tourists from Western Europe stayed for the longest time (14.5 days) while African visitors stayed for the shortest time (7.0 days).

Figure 1 shows that the number of nights’ distribution fluctuated between 2012 and 2016. However, between 2008 and 2012, the number of nights’ distribution was either constant, gradually increasing or decreasing. In 2008, nights distribution of (31 and over) indicated the lowest distribution of nearly 2%, which remained constant up to 2012. The percentage gradually increased to the highest in 2014 (8%), and later decreased to 4% in 2015 and 2016. Nights’ distribution of (30 and above) and (22-30) showed the same trend- however, between 2014 and 2015, nights distribution of (22-30) increased to its peak of 12%.

The same trend was revealed by the nights’ distribution (15-21), which had the lowest percentage of 9% in 2008 and a peak of 12% in 2015. Between 2008 and 2012, nights’ distribution (1-3) fluctuated between 25% and 26% and sharply decreased to 10% in 2013. Between 2013 and 2016, the nights’ distribution (1-3) fluctuated between 10% and 12.5%. However, the nights’ distribution (4-7) gradually increased from 28% to the highest of 34% between 2008 and 2012, and then fluctuated between 34% and 30%, between 2012 and 2016. The nights’ distribution (4-7) indicated the lowest percentage (27%) in 2014. The number of nights (8-14) averagely indicated the highest distribution throughout the 2008-2016 period, with the highest percentage of 40% in 2016 and the lowest (26%) in 2016.

From the figure 2, it is evident that tourists visited Sri Lanka mainly for pleasure. In 2008, 72% of tourists visited the region for pleasure, as compared to the 84% of 2016. The number of tourists that visited the country for pleasure decreased between 2011 and 2016, from 80% to 76%. The percentage of tourists that visited the region for sports is 0% for the whole period between 2008 and 2016, while those that toured to visit friends and families was 8% in 2008 and 27% in 2014 which was the highest. Between 2014 and 2016, the percentage number of tourists who came to visit family and friends decreased from 27% to 10%. However, the proportion of tourists that visited Sri Lanka for business and convention fluctuated between 10% and 12% between 2008 and 2012, before it decreased to 2% and constant between 2014 and 2016.

Figure 3 uncovers that the majority of tourists who visit Sri Lanka came from Asia. In 2016, 45% of the tourists were from Asia, 33% from Western Europe, and 7% from Eastern Europe. 4% were from Australasia, 5% from North America and 6% from other regions. However, the number of tourists from Western Europe gradually decreased between 2005 and 2016- in 2016, the percentage number of tourists from Western Europe was 42%. The number of tourists from Asia increased between 2005 and 2016, from 42% to 40% between 2007 and 2013 and to 45% in 2016. Australasia showed the least number of tourists, as the percentage number of foreign visitors from Eastern Europe increased throughout the period from 2% in 2005 to 7% in 2016. The number of tourists from other regions also increased between 2005 and 2016 from 2% to 6% respectively.

The number of tourists aged between 3 and 19 years fluctuated between 2.4% and 10.6%, with the highest record being observed in 2012 (refer to table 3). The percentage decreased from 9.9% to 7.9% between 2015 and 2016. Most of the tourists were aged between 30 and 39 years- however, the percentage number of tourists within this age bracket slightly reduced from 22.6% to 22.5% between 2015 and 2016. However, the number of tourists aged 60 years and above increased from 13.9% to 17.1% between 2015 and 2016.

The data collected from the World Bank indicated that revenue collections from the tourism sector in Sri Lanka steadily increased from USD 803 million in 2008 to USD 4591 million in 2016. However, between 2008 and 2009, the proceeds decreased from USD 803 million to USD 754 million (see figure 4).


Revenues from foreign visitors increased between 2008 and 2016 in all the national parks. Tourists from North America and Western Europe stayed longer while those from Asia stayed for the shortest period. The tourists’ number of nights of stay (31 and over) was the lowest while the number of nights (8-14) was the highest. Most of the tourists visited Sri Lanka for pleasure while none of the visitors came for sports. Most tourists originated from Asia and Western Europe while few came from other regions. Most of the tourists were aged between 30 and 49 years, while few are aged between 3 and 19 years.


Sri Lanka Tourism Developent Authority. (2016). Annual statistical report.

Colombo: Sri Lanka Tourism Developent Authority- Research and International Relations Division.

January 19, 2024


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