Sri Lanka’s tourism industry was severely affected from March 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the termination of all passenger flights and ships to Sri Lanka, there was a cessation of tourist arrivals from the third week of March 2020, resulting in a substantial decline in tourist arrivals by 70.8% to 71,370 from 244,328 in March 2019, the Central Bank said on Monday (01).
With these developments, earnings from tourism were provisionally estimated to have declined to US dollars 135 million in March 2020, in comparison to US dollars 461 million in March 2019, with cumulative earnings amounting to US dollars 956 million during the first three months of 2020, a drop of 31.5% from the corresponding period of 2019.
Meanwhile, workers’ remittances declined by 13.9% in March 2020, year on year, amounting to US dollars 492 million.
There was a notable number of returnees from countries such as South Korea and Italy, prior to the closure of the airports in March 2020.
This was further exacerbated by lower crude oil prices impacting Middle Eastern economies, where a majority of Sri Lankan migrant workers are employed. On a cumulative basis, workers’ remittances recorded a decline of 1.0% to US dollars 1,600 million during the first three months of 2020, in comparison to the corresponding period of 2019.