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Tourism – The pathway to Sri Lanka’s independence from Global Creditors

Dr. Dietmar Doering
Social Scientist, Head of AGSEP Research and a Tourism Promoter

If Sri Lanka could follow the track Vietnam took, the dream of reaching 9 Million Visitors arrival to the Island is imaginable. Understandably this achievement cannot be reached overnight and huge challenges are to be met, such as the aspect of detailing Over-tourism risks, which already had been raised by critics after 2.3 Million tourists were recorded in 2019. Environmental challenges, Infrastructure improvement and social impacts on Sri Lankan society in general is to be thoroughly analyzed too.

One can assume, that Vietnam in the late 1970 had to explore and address same challenges and as records document, it looks that the East Asian country was able to manage most of them. Public consent has to be sought with intense efforts to explain the pros and cons of such massive increment of foreign visitors to the island.

Vietnam recorded 250.000 Visitors in 1990, which almost exactly matched Sri Lanka’s 298.000 tourists who came in the same year. Thereafter Vietnam’s tourism sector experienced an impressive growth from 1989 to 2008, with a 17-fold increase from 250.000 visits to 4.240.000 visitors, and this pattern persisted unabated in the years that followed. In 2019, the tourism sector in Vietnam reached a pre-pandemic high of 18 million yearly arrivals, while Sri Lanka only saw 2 million visitors—clearly underperforming Vietnam.

In this article let’s not emphasize too much on obstacles and stumbling blocks which were put in the way of Sri Lanka’s Tourism Development efforts. Let’s put forward a Model Study which is in the making and looking at comparisons to Vietnams enormous increment of tourist arrivals. Everything, any project idea starts with “Cogitatio gignit materia” or Thought creates matter. If Sri Lanka Tourism on its development path at a certain time in future arrives at welcoming 9 Million visitors annually, the impact for Sri Lanka’s state budget GDP is noticeable. Taking present data publicised by the SLTDA into consideration an average tourist spends 250 USD daily for his holiday on the island.  And average stay of 10 days, Western Europeans holiday usually are in the range of 14 days, while Indians, Chinese and Russians are short termed, would create a revenue in the range of 2.500 USD per incoming guest translated into 22.5 Billion USD annually which corresponds with approx. 25% of its annual GDP of 2021






With this anticipated tourist earnings, Sri Lanka would be largely independent from foreign lending and receive a sizable financial stimulus to its budget.

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