A recent data by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) revealed that a total of 19,915 Indians, accounting for 19 per cent of all the inbound tourists, visited the island nation in April 2023. The Indians were followed by the Russians (14%) and the tourists from The UK (8%), reported the PTI.
For the past 3 years, Sri Lanka struggled to open up for tourism, first due to the travel restrictions following Covid, then the politico-economic situation in the country. Prior to that, in 2019, tourist arrivals to the island had plummeted since the Easter Sunday bombings that resulted in the deaths of 270 individuals, including 11 Indians.
Why do Indians choose Sri Lanka?
'The Pearl of the Indian Ocean' has lush green jungles, mountains, waterfalls, trails, nature and wildlife safaris, tea gardens, and numerous shrines of varying faiths to offer to make Sri Lanka one of the most sought-after travel destinations for honeymoon couples, nature lovers, pilgrims and adventure enthusiasts.
With 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a rich and diverse heritage, the country offers a spiritual tourism experience for Hindus and Buddhists of India as well as the subcontinent.
Ancient cities of Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya, Nuwara Eliya, Sacred Tooth Temple (houses a tooth of Gautam Buddha), and the Buddhist temple caves of Dambulla are the sites preferred by most Indians.
Murugan trail and Shiva Shakti trail offer a visit to several festivals and temples for south Indian pilgrims and Shaivite and Shakti pilgrim sites of the east and north of the country respectively. Meditation practices perfected by Buddhist monks have also come to be central to the unique spiritual experience.
Sri Lanka's proximity to India and its lower cost of living compared to other international destinations make it an appealing option for Indians seeking an affordable vacation. Frequent and daily flights from Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kochi and New Delhi are the best way to enter the island nation. Indian tourists can easily obtain a visa on arrival on payment of a nominal $20 fee for a 30-day stay in the country.
Shared love for curries, coconut and chai makes Indians feel at home in Sri Lanka. Hailed as one of the finest black teas, Ceylon tea is known for its unmatched flavour and taste, bold use of garam masala, chillis and coconut-infused curries act as a common thread.
Sri Lanka offers various adventure activities, such as surfing, diving, snorkelling, hiking, and wildlife encounters. Indians visit Sri Lanka to engage in these thrilling activities and encounter exhilarating moments.
Sri Lanka's picturesque landscapes, opulent resorts, and heartfelt hospitality make it an enticing option for hosting destination weddings and celebrating honeymoons. Numerous Indian couples opted for Sri Lanka as their preferred location to tie the knot or embark on their romantic getaway, forging everlasting memories is a recent trend.
Sri Lanka's heavy reliance on imports for petroleum, food, automobile and engineering goods has left it wanting foreign reserves, especially after the agricultural crisis, pandemic and politico-economic. The nation would be eyeing to get to take the tourism industry to the pre-pandemic level, ie 10 per cent of the GDP. The arrivals, this April topping 100,000 for the fourth consecutive time since 2019 is a welcome sign for the economy of the forex-starved nation.