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SL tourism poised for growth with visa free travel

by malinga
February 21, 2024 1:06 am 0 comment

Tourism in Sri Lanka is on a high growth trajectory following a boost in Sri Lanka’s potential as a must-visit destination. Visa free travel for tourists from China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Thailand, Malaysia and Japan has provided the right nudge for tourists to put Sri Lanka on the top of their travel bucket list.

The Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) scheme is valid until March 2024 while the visa is valid for 30 days, permitting double entry from the date of initial arrival to Sri Lanka.

Industry sources believe that the boost in tourist arrivals may encourage the visa free travel scheme to be extended further.

Having welcomed 208,253 visitors in January this year alone,the highest in 4 years, the figures confirm a YoY increase of 103.1%.A record number of tourists are visiting Sri Lanka – it was over 200,000 tourists during January 2024 and during the first 12 days of February, the figure was almost 92,000.

Likely to receive 2 million visitors in 2024, the tourism sector could generate a revenue of USD 6 billion within the year. Today’s travelers are well versed with digital payment options and would expect to be able to pay without cash anywhere, with the ease of use, safety and access of digital payments like they do around the world.

The recent Global Travel Intentions Study by Visa, confirms that today’s travelers look for experiential travel and not merely visiting tourist hotspots – which makes ubiquitous, seamless and secure payment access critical. Developing Sri Lanka’s payment infrastructure and ensuring a variety of options to travelers wherever they go – from cards, contactless payments and QR code payments to online and ecommerce payments would enhance tourism.

It is critical to assure travelers of convenience and access even when they travel off the beaten path.

“Imagine, if backpackers and explorers can have the same seamless digital payment experience at a small grocery shop in a remote town of Sri Lanka, they would leave with not just vivid memories but a great positive experience.”

There is still some way to go for Sri Lanka to be adept and advanced in digital payments. The insights from an IFC study on digital payments in the Sri Lankan retail sector showed that although usage of smartphones was high in Sri Lanka, digital literacy was still low in areas outside the Western Province and steps should be taken to enhance this for a safe and seamless experience using cashless payments.

“Visitors also get the flexibility of paying in local currency and availing great offers on hotels, travel, retail, experiences etc. when they pay using cards.”

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