Tourism & Leisure

Sector Overview

Tourism in Sri Lanka has been a unified and popular concept since 1980s. The country despite being in a civil war during this period, still attracted tourists to parts that were not under conflict leading to the slow and steady growth of tourism and leisure related infrastructure and activities in the country. However, since the end of the civil war in May 2009, the tourism and leisure sector of the economy has shown exponential growth and expansive opportunities leading to an annual average growth rate of 37% from 2010 onwards. Promotional campaigns carried out during the last few years has helped Sri Lanka to position itself as a leading tourist destination in the world which is reflected in the sector’s opportunities and growth prospects, with tourist arrivals in the country reaching the highest ever at 2,116,407 in 2017.

The continued efforts to improve internal infrastructure by the government such as expressways, airports and seaports, together with the influx of investments from international hotel brands such as Shangri-La Group, India’s ITC Group, Thailand’s Minor Group and Onyx Hospitality Group, Spain’s RIU Hotels & Resorts, Singapore’s Aman Resorts, USA’s Sheraton brand, Marriott International, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, and Switzerland’s Movenpick Hotels & Resorts Management has put Sri Lanka in the limelight over the last seven years as a fresh and imminent destination that must be explored by holidaymakers and businessmen alike. In addition, being recognized by publications and websites such as Lonely Planet, The Conde Nast Traveler and National Geographic as a premier tourist destination has only promoted the reputation of the country leading to the continued growth of the sector and an increased interest by international investors despite prevalent and unexpected challenges of operating within the tourism and leisure sector.

As the third largest foreign exchange earner to the country, the earnings from the tourism sector grew by 11.6% to USD 3,925 million in 2017, compared to USD 3,518 million earned in 2016, and the USD 2,981 million earned in 2015. Spending and duration of stay by tourists has also shown steady increases over the years, with average spending per tourist rising to USD 170.1 per day, from USD 168.2 per day in 2016.

As an identified key growth sector which has benefitted from the country’s improved infrastructure, increasing accommodation and transport options, geographically advantageous location, abundance of nature, and friendly people make Sri Lanka’s tourism and leisure sector a very strong contender for attracting top tier investors from the international travel, leisure and tourism arena. The Board of Investment (BOI) is pleased to play a pivotal role in assisting interested investors in executing investment opportunities to further the growth of the tourism and leisure sector of the country.

Key Contacts

Mr. Gamini Jayathillake
Telephone : +94 11 234634
Mobile : +94 77 7881712
Email :

Investment in the Allied and / Ancillary sub-sectors:

  • Hotels / Resorts / Villas
  • Higher-end restaurants
  • Recreational Activities: Theme Parks, Water Sports, Golf & Race Courses, Angling, Yacht Marina, Coastal Ferry Services & Cruise Lines, Eco-Lodges, Camping, and Whale & Dolphin Watching
  • Wellness Tourism
  • Adventure & Eco-Tourism/Tourism Services
  • Entertainment Complex & Tourist Shopping Centers
  • Meeting Incentive Convention and Exhibition (MICE)
  • Convention and Exhibition Centers
  • Marinas and Water Sports facilities
  • Domestic and International Air and Water-based Transport
  • Skills Development: Hotel/Hospitality Training Institutes