Tourism in Sri Lanka

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Kitulgala, where the Academy Award-winning "The Bridge on the River Kwai" was filmed

In the twelfth century, the explorer Marco Polo wrote that Sri Lanka was the finest island in the whole world. For centuries it had been a tourism destination, particularly for European travelers. Recently, the Sri Lankan Civil War that spanned over 25 years and ended in 2009 has had a negative impact on tourism and the growth of the industry stagnated, however following this era a resurgence in Sri Lanka as a tourist destination has been evident. In 2012, post office worldwide holiday costs barometer named Sri Lanka as the best valued destination for holidays.[1]

Value Proposition[edit]

The advantage of Sri Lanka as a tourism destination is threefold. Firstly it is an authentic tourism destination. Secondly it is a compact island of 65,610 km2 where a tourist can travel the length and breadth of the country within a few days, thirdly the diversity of the tourism product is unparalleled.

However due to a number of policies of the Sri Lankan Government, international tourists that are not dual citizens of Sri Lanka or hold a Sri Lankan National Identity card are penalized when travelling to Sri Lanka - this includes but is not limited to artificially inflated prices for accommodation and tourist attractions that are in some cases an order of magnitude more expensive for tourists, indeed some attractions are free if proof of nationality is provided.

For the simplicity of communicating the diversity of Sri Lanka in 2010 the tourism authorities started positioning the country around 8 different products namely; beaches, heritage, wildlife, scenic beauty, mind and body wellness, festivals, sports and adventure and Essence. The Essence of Sri Lanka include what is unique to the country such as its people, art and culture, spices, tea, gems, handy crafts etc.


Beach at Arugam Bay

Beach is located at Arugam Bay Being. An island Sri Lanka is surrounded by sea and a perfect destination for a beach holiday. When the seas are rough on one side of the island there 1 is calm waters on the other side. So it is a year round beach destination.

West Coast[edit]

South Coast[edit]

East Coast[edit]

North Coast[edit]

Heritage Sites[edit]

With a recorded history of more than 2500 years Sri Lanka has a rich heritage. There are 8 world heritage sites within the country which include; The hill capital Kandy, The sacred city of Anuradhapura, The Dutch fort of Galle, The ancient city of Polonnaruva, The rock fortress of Sigiriya, The golden rock temple of Dambulla, The beautiful Horton plains and The Singharaja rain forest. Apart from these famous sites there are hundreds of heritage sites in the island which are frequented by tourists.

Kandy, a World Heritage Site


Leopards at Yala National Park

For a small island the biodiversity of the country is most impressive. Sri Lanka is home for a wide variety of mammals, birds, fish, butterflies and snakes. The big five Sri Lankan wildlife are the elephant, the leopard, the sloth bear, the blue whale and the sperm whale.

Some of the wildlife parks in Sri Lanka are:

Tourism in Yala National Park

Sports and Adventure[edit]

Due to varying climate conditions and geography Sri Lanka is an ideal destination for sports tourism. Some of the popular sports include Golf, Surfing, Diving & Snorkeling, Hot Air Ballooning, Rafting and Canoeing, Scuba Diving, Fishing, Cycling, Hiking, Trekking and Rock Climbing.

Locations popular for specific sports are:

Mind and body wellness[edit]

Sri Lanka is famous for traditional Ayurveda hospitals and spas, yoga training and a large number of meditation centers.

Scenic Beauty[edit]

Waterfall of Sri Lanka are:

Botanical Gardens of Sri Lanka are:


For a country where people practice four main religions Sri Lanka has always maintained religious harmony among communities. With Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and Christianity playing important roles of lives of people Sri Lanka has religious or cultural festivals throughout the year.

Famous festivals of Sri Lanka

  • Duruthu Perahera
  • Thai Pongal
  • Aluth Sahal Mangallaya
  • Milad un-Nabi
  • Independence Day Celebrations
  • Navam Perahera
  • Maha Shivratri
  • Sinhala and Tamil New Year Celebrations
  • Easter Celebrations
  • Galle Literary Festival
  • Vesak Festival
  • Poson Festival
  • Esala Perehara
  • Katharagama Festival
  • Vel Festival
  • Hikkaduwa Beach Festival
  • Ramadan festival
  • Colombo Art Biennale
  • Sri Lanka Design Festival
  • Christmas
  • Electric Peacock Festival



Main article: Gems of Sri Lanka
Ratnapura where the city of famous Sri pada mountain located is the center of precious stone mining

The precious stones such as rubies and sapphires frequently found in Ratnapura and 90% of the rocks of the island are of Precambrian age, 560 million to 2,400 million years ago. The gems form in sedimentary residual gem deposits, eluvial deposits, metamorphic deposits, skarn and calcium-rich rocks. Other gems are of magmatic origin.[3]

Some of the most notable precious stones are :

  • Blue Sapphires,
  • Star Sapphires,
  • Rubies,
  • Pink Sapphires,
  • Orange Sapphires,
  • Padparadschas,
  • Cats Eye,
  • Alexandrite,
  • Chrysoberyls,
  • Garnets,
  • Spinets,
  • Moonstones,
  • Aquamarines,
  • Topazes.


  • Cinnamon (kurundu),
  • Cloves (karabunati),
  • Cardamom (karadamungu),
  • Black pepper (gammiris),
  • Gambog (goraka),
  • Turmeric (kaha),
  • Curry leaf (karapincha),
  • Mustard (abba),
  • Coriander (kottamalli),
  • Lemon grass (sera),
  • Nutmeg (sadikka),
  • Cumin (suduru),
  • Sweet cumin (maduru),
  • Fenugreek (Uluhal),
  • Dill seeds (Asamodagam),
  • Red dry chillies (viyalimiris),
  • Mace (wasawasi).

Dance Forms[edit]

There are three main traditional dance forms in Sri Lanka:

1) Kandyan Dancing,

2) Low Country Dancing,

3) Sabaragamuwa Dancing

Though not unique to Sri Lanka 'Bharatanatyam' which originated from India is also popular in Sri Lanka particularly among the Tamil community.


Sri Lanka is the 3rd biggest tea producing country in the world. The country is best known in the world market for the production of unorthodox tea. Tea was introduced to the country by the British who called the country “Ceylon”. Pure “Ceylon Tea” is considered some of the finest tea produced anywhere in the world.


Different types of handicrafts are available in Sri Lanka:

  • Wood carving
  • Silver wear
  • Brass castings
  • Ceramic ware
  • Bamboo products
  • Pottery
  • Batiks
  • Lace works
  • Cane works
  • Costume jewelry
  • Lacquerware
  • Wooden masks
  • Coir goods
  • Handlooms
  • Ivory products

People of Sri Lanka[edit]

The main ethnic groups are:

  • Sinhalese, 75%
  • Sri Lankan Tamil, 11%
  • Sri Lanka Moor, Muslim, 9%
  • Indian Tamil, 4%
  • Burghers
  • Others 1%

Sri Lankan people are generally known for their hospitality. Most tourists admire the genuine smile of the people according to airport exit surveys.

Tourism industry[edit]

Routemaster used as a tour bus in Colombo

The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami[4] and the past civil war have reduced tourist arrivals but Sri Lanka received over half a million tourists in 2006.[5]

The International media reports published about the improvements in industry of January 2008 by 0.6%,[6] March 2008 by 8.6%[7] when comparing to last year's (2007) figures. It was reported that in the year 2011, total revenue from the tourists arrival to the country is $830.3 million from 850,000 tourists inflow. Further, the tourism board expects over 1 million tourists in 2012 with revenue of more than $1 billion.[8]

The number of arrivals from the Meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions (MICE) sector is also growing, in particular from India. The Sri Lanka Convention Bureau is targeting a 20% growth rate for MICE arrivals from India.[9]

Some of the major hotel development projects currently underway in Sri Lanka are listed below.[10]


  • Shangri-La Colombo: The Hong Kong-based company recently broke ground for a 661-room tower near the storied seafront Galle Face Green in the capital. Expected to open 2015.
  • The sights and scenes in Galle, an ancient town in Sri Lanka that was granted Unesco World Heritage status in the late '80s.
  • Sheraton Hotels and Resorts Colombo: Starwood Hotels will make its debut with this 306-room hotel opposite Galle Face Green. Slated to open October 2013.
  • Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts Colombo: The Swiss company’s entrée will be a 180-room downtown hotel. Target opening date is the middle of 2013.
  • Jetwing Colombo: Local hotel group Jetwing’s project will have 70 rooms and 28 serviced apartments. Opening April 2014.

The South

  • Shangri-La Hambantota: A 145-acre resort with 315 rooms in southern Hambantota district, with an 18-hole golf course, dive center, and CHI Spa. Scheduled to open in 2014.
  • Avani Kalutara: The second property under the new mid-market brand by Minor Hotel Group and local partner Serendib Leisure will be opened later this year. Located an hour south of Colombo, it will have 105 rooms.
  • Anantara Kalutara: A 138-room upscale resort with a spa, opening late 2013.
  • Soneva Ahungalla: Bangkok-based Six Senses’ founder Sonu Shivdasani is partnering with Sri Lanka’s Aitken Spence Hotels to create an exclusive 71-villa project, occupying 10½ acres of beachfront land and the 26-acre Meeraladuwa Island, just south of Bentota. Slated for early 2014.
  • Jetwing Yala Safari, Yala: The original luxury game lodge at one of the country’s best-known parks was destroyed in the 2004 tsunami. The new development will have 70 rooms and 28 villas and is expected to open in April 2013.

The East

  • Jetwing Reef, Uppuveli: This 68-room property, set to open December 2013, will be among the first high-end resorts to open in the region since the war ended.

Social and environmental impacts of tourism

Tourism in Sri Lanka, despite its benefits for the local economy (it is one of the main foreign income sources of the country), is undergoing several critics. Thus, some studies indicate that a quick modern tourism development would not cater to the specific needs of the local people.[11] Also, the high biodiversity of Sri Lanka seems to be threatened by the development of mass tourism which has already affected several natural reserves. Some endangered animal species seem to be seriously threatened by the rise of tourism in some areas: that is the case of the Keerthisinghe’s Rock Frog, which is endemic in Sri Lanka.[12]

An alternative kind of tourism - called Ecotourism, sustainable tourism or responsible tourism - enables travelers to do tourism throughout Sri Lanka while contributing on the well-being of the local communities and making sure the environmental impact is limited.[13] The Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation is the national organization that created an official ecotourism network through the island, allowing to develop sustainable tourism with wide options of travel. In 2010, the foundation won the presidential awards for "Outstanding Contribution for Tourism in Sri Lanka".[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Holiday Costs Barometer 2012". 
  2. ^ {{cite
    • Nilgala Herbal Garden- located 11 km away from Bibile.(Bibile - Ampara Road)also Best Place for Bird watching
    news|url= wildlife sanctuary|work=BBC Sinhala|date=2010-12-01}}
  3. ^ "Gem Mining". National Geographic Society. 16 January 2008. 
  4. ^ "Tsunami region seeks tourism boost". CNN. January 6, 2005. 
  5. ^ A war strange as fiction, The Economist
  6. ^ Aneez, Shihar (February 15, 2008). "Sri Lanka Jan tourist arrivals up 0.6 pct vs yr ago". Reuters. 
  7. ^ Sirilal, Ranga (April 16, 2008). "Sri Lanka March tourist arrivals up 8.6 pct yr/yr". Reuters. 
  8. ^ "Sri Lanka's May tourist arrivals rise 17.5 pct yr/yr". 
  9. ^ Samath, Feizal (November 8, 2012). "Sri Lanka reaches out for more Indian MICE". TTGmice. Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  10. ^ "Hotels Return to Sri Lanka". 
  11. ^ Evan Due (1980). "Tourism and Development: Examining the Case of Sri Lanka". Open Access Dissertations and Theses. 
  12. ^ Gazala Anver. "Tourism Threatening Endangered Species". The Sunday Leader. 
  13. ^ J. Thumira Gunasena. "Tourism in Sri Lanka and its Impact on Social Political and Natural Environment". 

External links[edit]