Which Nationalities visit Sri Lanka the most?

Tourists visit Sri Lanka from all parts of the world to explore the fascinating variety of sights, activities and culture the country has to offer. The Island has years if experience welcoming guests from all different parts of the Worlds. It’s interesting to know which Nationalities visit Sri Lanka the most so you know what other tourists you may meet in the country.

Sri Lanka Tourist Statistics

The Sri Lanka Tourist Development Authority issues annual, monthly and weekly statistics which breakdown the numbers of arrivals and country of origin.
There is comparison figures, month to month and year to year, however you must take into account that there have been external and internal factors that have affected tourist arrivals.

The global pandemic effectively closed the country to tourists and it took some months before Sri Lanka was off the red list for travel. There was also a lag before a more normal number of flights started arriving on the Island. In our experience flights really only started bringing a number of tourists in November 2021. 

There was also effectively a halt in tourist numbers arriving in the country from late April 2022 until effectively November 2022 due to the government protests. The protests took place between 31 March and July 2022 as a result of the price of basic goods rising and food and fuel shortages.

Foreign Office warnings against travelling to Sri Lanka started to be lifted in August 2022 forward as the country started to settle down again after a change in government.

Flights from Russia started in September 2022 and other carriers followed in the latter part of the year. Tourist numbers increased to around 100,000 per month in early 2023 and it is hoped that arrivals will continue to move upward. The target tourist numbers for 2023 for Sri Lanka is 2 million and therefore the industry still has a way to go to achieve this goal.

Sri Lanka’s tourist numbers peaked at just over 2.5 million in 2018 according to the World Bank. Clearly the country has a long way to go to reach those numbers again.

Where do the tourists come from?

Visitors from the Russian Federation and India make up the highest number of visitors to Sri Lanka according to the official statistics. 

This article from Outlook India states that in December 2022 there 19,000 from Russian and 17,000 from India. 

The UK, Australia and Germany follow in passenger numbers. We, at GlenMyu Estate, see a lot of French, Swiss, Austrian and Scandinavian tourists coming to the Sri Lankan Hill Country to visit some of the sights including Ella, Nine Arch Bridge, Horton Plains National Park, Lipton Seat and Diyaluma Waterfall.

What countries is Sri Lanka targeting for tourists?

UK, Germany, France, India, China, Australia, Russia, the Middle East, and Scandinavia
During April and May 2023 the Tourist Development authority in Sri Lanka were targeting nine key markets.
If your country is not in that list please do not be offended. We at GlenMyu Estate have welcomed guests from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Kazakhstan, Poland, Ecuador, Kenya, the US and many more.

What Visa do I need to visit Sri Lanka?

Well, you will need a visa to visit Sri Lanka.

As Tourist Visas have changed over the last few years, in Sri Lanka’s attempt to increase tourism, we would recommend that you visit the Government Visa Website to get the most up to date information.

As a tourist you can visit the country for the following activities:

  • Sightseeing, holidaying
  • Visiting friends and relatives
  • Medical treatment including Ayurvedic and yoga
  • Participate in sporting events, competitions and activities relating to cultural performance

The most efficient way to apply for a visa is online via an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorisation)

There are three types of ETA:

  • ETA for Tourist purpose with double entry for 30 (thirty) days
  • ETA for Business purpose with double entry for 30 (thirty) days
  • ETA for Transit up to 02 days Free of Charge basis (Documentary proof needed)

At present, there are Tourist Visas which cost between US$20 and US$50, depending upon length of visa and country of origin. Visa duration is up to 30 days or up to 180 days.

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Countries visa cost is cheaper due to the special agreement between those countries.

If you are staying longer than 30 days then you should opt for the longer up to 180 days which costs US$50. 

Visit the link for extending your visa for more than 30 days here.

What time of year should I visit Sri Lanka?

Similar to other parts of the world climate change appear to be affecting the weather patterns in Sri Lanka.

Therefore it is more difficult to know when the rains will come.

Know when the Monsoons come.

Beware the South West Monsoon…. oh… and also the North West Monsoon

Tourists visiting Sri Lanka should be aware of the annual monsoons that hit the country.

Make sure you check this before you decide what part of the Island to visit.

The North Eastern Monsoon

December to February
Rainy season in the dry zone
Regular showers in Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Trincomalee or Jaffna
This is an ideal time to visit the south and western beaches
It is also the best time to visit Colombo, Kandy, Galle or Nuwara Eliya
Whale watching season at Mirissa
You can experience the amazing wildlife in Udawalawe or Yala National Park
Horton Plains National Park and Knuckles Mountain range
Pilgrimage season of holy Adam’s Peak

The South Western Monsoon
May – September
There are intermittent rains in the wet zone
Also regular showers in Colombo, Kandy, Galle, or Nuwara Eliya
This is the best time to visit Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya or Dambulla
It is also an ideal to visit north and eastern beaches
It’s the best time of the year to visit Trincomalee, Jaffna, Mannar, Arugam Bay
During August-September there is the elephant gathering at Minneriya and Kaudulla.

Sri Lanka is an all year round destination.

Sri Lanka is a year-round holiday destination. This is due to its combination of weather systems ensuring that one or several regions, as well as a section of coastline, is statistically always expecting sunshine.

The peak season to visit Sri Lanka is between December and mid-April. The traditional summer holiday months are also favourable on the east coast which is at its peak from May to September.

In summary, please check the weather forecast for the part of the country you plan to visit and don’t discount visiting outside the peak season. Nowadays, tourists are looking for places to visit which are not overpopulated and they can see something without battling other people trying to get those Instagram shots.

Find out more about GlenMyu Estate.

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