Sri Lanka has an unrealized tourism competitive advantage. There is momentum in international travel, slated to double to 2 billion travellers by 2031, and Sri Lanka is primed to take advantage of this, albeit more strategically.
While arrivals to Sri Lanka have grown exponentially over the last five years and tourism investment especially in Colombo’s hotel sector has dramatically increased, the political environment has partly fostered a higher level of fluctuation at the national tourism organisations (i.e., the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau and the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority). With ever changing priorities and varying plans it becomes difficult for the country to build on its tourism strengths and focus on new opportunities.
Sri Lanka can position itself as a high yield, exotic and alluring destination. While more mature destinations (i.e., Thailand and Bali, Indonesia) have invested in volume, can Sri Lanka be the destination of the discerning, culturally-curious and adventurous travellers, increasingly running out of choices for immersive and authentic experiences?
The answer lies in defining the right tourism brand for Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s recent tourism identity was born out of a need to open doors and change travel consumer perceptions following the decades-long civil war. The timing is right to build on that base and develop a re-invigorated brand position, recognising the shifting travel consumer landscape and embrace of disruption in the travel and tourism industry.
With stable leadership in the tourism industry, both within government and in the private sector, Sri Lanka can realize its enormous tourism potential. Through research, consultation, evaluation of the competitive set and understanding the trends in global tourism, Sri Lanka’s tourism industry can thrive.