Tourism industry experts Hospitalitynet have published an in-depth report on the state of play in Sri Lanka, specifically in Colombo, Katunayake and Negombo.

Linked to the second Tourism, Hotel Investment & Networking Conference (THINC), it explores the historical performance and outlook for those three key locations.

And it concludes that “the hospitality industry in Colombo, Katunayake and Negombo is on the cusp of a major change” after noting that “Western Europe remains a key driver for demand.

“Western Europeans, chiefly British and German nationals, contribute a bulk of the demand between November and February.

“With the intent to escape the cold and harsh winters, visitation by the Western Europeans during this period is primarily to the western coast known for its golden beaches and calm seas.

“Attracted to the sun and sand, these nationals clock the longest length of stay on the island (approximately 14 nights).”

Experiential travel demand

However, the report also notes that the emergence of new itineraries is casting the net wider and helping drive Sri Lanka as a must-visit destination. “The popular destinations for travellers to Sri Lanka have been Colombo, the Southwest Coast, the cultural triangle and the hill country.

“Traditionally, travel itineraries for the island have been centred upon these key destinations. In addition to selling the popular circuits, tour operators have now begun customising itineraries with a special focus on experiential travel.”

All of this has boosted tourism into the third largest source of foreign exchange earnings in Sri Lanka, while “Asia continues to be the top source market for hotel room night demand. Sri Lanka’s proximity to its top source markets, namely India and China, has resulted in a sustained growth of arrivals, year-on-year.

“Additionally, improving connectivity, increasing available disposable incomes and the expanding middle class in these source markets has augmented the sustained growth in demand.”

Read the full report here.

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