Industry Update
Press Release26 August 2021

WTTC warns Sri Lankan economy could suffer a shortfall of more than LKR8.2 billion every month it’s on the UK’s ‘red list’ for travel

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World Travel & Tourism (WTTC)

London, UK: Research conducted by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has revealed Sri Lanka’s economy could face losses of more than LKR260 million each day it remains on the UK’s disruptive and damaging ‘red list’ for travel.


According to pre-pandemic figures, the UK was one of the top inbound markets for Sri Lanka, representing 10 per cent of all inbound arrivals in 2019, just behind India.

Based on 2019 levels, Sri Lanka’s status as a UK’s ‘red list’ country will pose a significant threat to the nation’s struggling Travel & Tourism sector and its overall economy, which have been seriously damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For those countries on the UK’s ‘red list’, even fully vaccinated travellers are forced to quarantine in expensive hotels and bear the cost of COVID-19 tests, which is deterring UK citizens from travelling to Sri Lanka.

WTTC’s data unveils the dramatic consequences these restrictions could pose for the Sri Lankan economy, with the country facing a drain of nearly LKR 1.9 billion each week it’s on the UK’s ‘red list’, equating to more than LKR260 million every single day.

Virginia Messina, Senior Vice President, said: “Every week Sri Lanka remains on the ‘red list’, the nation’s economy faces losing millions. The restrictions faced by ‘red list’ countries on the UK’s traffic light system are not only damaging for the Travel & Tourism sector, but also the already devastated economy.

“With international travel coming to almost a complete halt, 214,000 Travel & Tourism jobs were lost in Sri Lanka last year, disrupting the livelihoods of those who rely on a thriving Travel & Tourism sector.

“As long as international travel remains stagnant, we are delaying the path to a global socio-economic recovery. A safe restoration of international mobility would rescue the devastated Travel & Tourism sector.

“WTTC believes an acceleration of the vaccine programme is key for the recovery of the economy, and it will act as a catalyst to restart international travel and salvage the struggling Travel & Tourism sector.”

Latest data shows less than one third of Sri Lankan population has been fully vaccinated, making it crucial for the nation’s government to ramp up the vaccination rollout and work closely with its UK counterpart, so the country can be moved from the economically damaging ‘red list’.

WTTC’s annual Economic Impact Report (EIR) unveils the dramatic impact COVID-19 has had on the Sri Lankan Travel & Tourism sector, with its contribution to the national GDP falling from LKR1,665.5 billion (10.4%) in 2019, to just LKR739.9 billion (4.9%) in 2020.

The EIR also reveals international visitor spending plummeted by 73.8%, from more than LKR884.1 billion in 2019, to merely LKR231.9 billion in 2020.

Download the press release.

About WTTC

WTTC is the body which represents the Travel & Tourism private sector globally. Members consist of CEOs of the world's Travel & Tourism companies, destinations, and industry organisations engaging with Travel & Tourism.

WTTC has a history of 25 years of research to quantify the economic impact of the sector in 185 countries. Travel & Tourism is a key driver for investment and economic growth globally. The sector contributes US$8.8 trillion or 10.4% of global GDP, and accounts for 319 million jobs or one in ten of all jobs on the planet.

For over 25 years, WTTC has been the voice of this industry globally. Members are the Chairs, Presidents and Chief Executives of the world's leading, private sector Travel & Tourism businesses, who bring specialist knowledge to guide government policy and decision-making and raise awareness of the importance of the sector.

WTTC Press Office
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