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The Effect of COVID 19 pandemic to the Tourism Industry in Sri Lanka

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9 V May 2021
https://doi.org/10.22214/ijraset.2021.34351
International Journal for Research in Applied Science & Engineering Technology (IJRASET)
ISSN: 2321-9653; IC Value: 45.98; SJ Impact Factor: 7.429
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The Effect of COVID 19 pandemic to the Tourism
Industry in Sri Lanka
Y. Thilini Thushanga1, Ranjana U K Piyadasa2
1Presidential Secretariat, Colombo, Sri Lanka
2Department of Environmental Technology, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Abstract: When carefully analyzing the time periods from history the tourism industry has played a major role towards the
development of Sri Lanka. The tourism industry has gradually developed with the contribution of governing bodies, public
sector, private sector and the general public. This study has focused on the fluctuation in the tourism industry during the post
war period whilst paying more attention on the period of year 2019-2020 due to the effect of COVID 19 pandemic. When
analyzing the data collected deeply it has revealed that the political stability, war, pandemics and crisis have negative
relationship with the development of tourism industry. To control and mitigate this issue, policy measures have to look at both
micro level in terms of positive attitudes and the active contribution of tourists as well as macro level at institutional factors such
as policy formulated by the governing bodies and practical implementation according to world accepted guide lines. This
research contributes to fill the gap between the disaster occurred due to COVID 19 pandemic and how to regain the tourism
industry with the normalized situation which leads to live with COVID 19 and other future pandemics or crisis in Sri Lanka.
Keywords: Bio Bubble, colonization, covid, Tourism Strategic Plan
I. INTRODUCTION
Sri Lanka has a good reputation and long history as a tourist destination since it is a tropical island in the Indian Ocean blessed with
the Mother Nature. In tourism industry so many booms and slumps can be seen due war and terrorist activities. Sri Lanka has
suffered thirty years of war and ended it in 2009. Then the bloom of the tourism industry has arose and within the short period of
time and ranked as a best tourism destination in the world. The tourism sector has developed gradually with the support of the
governing bodies of the country. As a result of that the tourism sector has diversified by nature of the industry and have attracted
more people in to the sector. Adventure Tourism, Community Based tourism, Nature Tourism, Eco Tourism, Culture Tourism and
Agri Tourism are developed with the participation of general public. These sectors were empowered by the National Tourism
Development Strategy. In 2019 the tourism industry has went down slightly due to Easter Sunday Attack of Islamic extremists.
Without giving much room to redevelop the sector the COVID 19 pandemic came in to the picture by turning the life styles upside
down all over the world. This has resulted negative impact to Sri Lanka and tourism sector has declined drastically. Through this
study I have paid more attention on the effect of COVID 19 pandemic to the tourism industry in Sri Lanka.
The economies of most of the developing countries depending on tourism. Tourism is one of the largest industries in the world and
one of the fastest growing economic sectors. It has noted that the expected growth in the tourism sector and the increasing
reliance of many developing countries. Since the nature of tourism is associated with the environment, need to pay special
attention to the relationship between environmental conservation and protection and sustainable tourism. The tourism can be
simply defined as a business of providing services to tourists who are travelling from one place to another for the different
purposes on their own. The word “tour” is derived from Latin and means a circle. The meaning of tourism is the movement around
a central point or axis (Theobald 1994). Therefore tourism is the movement around some places. According to the world Tourism
Organization tourism is defined as “the activities of persons traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for
not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes.” It defines the tourist as a visitor staying at
least one night in a collective or private accommodation in the place visited. Tourism is inherently based on curiosity and interests
of the individual. Tourist attractions are varied and multifaceted which are also basically dependent on the comprehension and the
attitude of the respective individual. There are countries which are attracted by its natural beauty, some are for its historical value
and some are gleaned with leisure opportunities and so on, which construed that tourism, essentially, based on purpose of travel.
Purpose of travel could be broadly categorized into following segments such as pleasure, education, pilgrimage,
archaeological sites, cultural heritage, sports, world renowned heritages, business and family visits.
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People are travelling with different expectation. And they always try to maximize the utility of their tour. Most of the governments
are heavily depend on the tourism industry since it generates more revenue in flow to the country. In order to minimize the conflicts
and to promote tourism as an industry many countries all around the world have taken different types of steps and followed many
strategies. The tourism sector has fallen due to this COVID 19 pandemic. The people who were associated with that sector felt
deep in to the well known as poverty. The several dimensions of tourism such as psychological, sociological, economic and
political travel impacts have turned negatively and every country is suffering due to consequences. Most of the countries in the
world have locked down and have imposed restrictions for internal mobilizations and external mobilizations have restricted to
control and mitigate the effect of COVID 19 pandemic situation. As a result of that following types of tourism industries identified
by the WTO have been limited.
1) Domestic tourism involves ‘residents of the given country traveling only within this country’
2) Inbound tourism involves ‘non-residents traveling in the given country’
3) Outbound tourism involves “residents traveling in another country”
The main objective of research is to identify, analyze and formulate strategies to control and mitigate the effect of COVID 19
pandemic whilst developing the tourism industry to capture competitive edge among other industries towards the economic
development of Sri Lanka.
II. SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES
A. To find out the pros and cons of the existing health policy framework with relevance to the tourism sector to meet the
unexpected medical issues and pandemics.
B. To develop solutions and remedies to overcome the unfavorable effects to the tourism industry due to COVID 19 pandemic and
to take necessary corrective actions to rectify the tourism policies to be beneficial to all the related parties.
C. To research on how and what are strategies and tools which have been used to develop the health indicators for the tourism
sector at a positive and favorable level to mitigate the effect of pandemic.
D. To find out what sort of strategies to be implemented to face the future pandemics and crisis which can be affected to the
tourism industry.
E. To study how to gather the ideas and the feedback of foreign and local tourists in order to develop the tourism policies to
maximize the attraction and economic benefits and to find out how those can be applied to Sri Lanka.
In this research collected secondary research publications to understand the current the drawback in the tourism industry in Sri
Lanka due to COVID 19 pandemic. For this research primary data has not been used due to the outcomes of pandemic such as lock
downs and mobilization restrictions. The secondary data has been used to identify the necessary reforms in tourism sector and
health indicators to mitigate and control the effect to the tourism industry due to COVID 19 pandemic and strategies to be
introduced to implement the same in the tourism sector of Sri Lanka. The data relevant to this research have collected from
secondary sources such as books, existing published written documents gathered from official documents, administrative circulars,
publications, journals, national and international instruments, research papers, reports and abstracts and Information on electronic
sources.
1) History of Tourism: During the past it was a new phenomenon for people to travel away from home regularly for different
purposes. As time passed, people have learnt to travel for religious purposes, to obtain health facilities and for other purposes.
With the social and economic development in Europe and North America, people were given more wages and more non-
financial benefits. With the industrial revolution, the transport systems developed and facilitated people to move away easily
and got access to the new information about upcoming trends and changes around the world. There was a rapid growth of
international tourism around the world during the1950s (Nordstrom, 2005). As a result of that rich people started to travel one
country to another. With the invention of air crafts traveling was stimulated. However traveling was limited to people in
developing countries due to income inequalities. Even in the developing countries domestic mobilization was developed
and established. After the Second World War, tourism was expanded in developed countries. That was largely due to the
introduction of jet aircraft for civilian transport. (May and Hill, 2004) With higher income levels, cheaper and better transport,
more time off holidays continued to lengthen and tourism expended. Countries become prosperous with the revenue generated
through substantial flows of outbound tourists.
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2) Global Trend in Tourism: Travel and tourism is the world’s largest and most diverse industry and it accounts for around
10.4% of world gross domestic product in 2019 and decreased up to 5.5% in 2020 due to ongoing restriction to mobility due
to the burden of the pandemic situation. People travel for many reasons. As transportation has become more affordable and
accommodations are found in various budgetary categories tourism has expended in almost all over the world in major cities as
well as in rural areas. Most of the countries depend on tourism as it generates revenue, employment, infrastructure
facilities and private sector growth. The world Travel and Tourism council (WTTC) estimated that in 2019 it generated
more than US$ 9.2 trillion in economic activity and created 334 million jobs, directly and indirectly, around the globe. Due to
pandemic the travel and tourism sector has reported a loss of US$ 4.5 trillion and generated only US$ 4.7 trillion in 2020, this
industry has contributed foe the loss of 3.7% GDP decline of the global economy. In year 2020 due to the mobility restrictions
and other related reasons the job market fallen down at a rate of 18.5% resulting a loss of 62 million jobs.
(https://wttc.org/Research/Economic-Impact)The influence of travel and tourism has dropped rapidly as more people
experiencing drastic reduction in their income level influenced by globalization unfavorable trends due to COVID 19.
Table 1- Direct and total contribution of travel and tourism to GDP worldwide from 2006- 2020 (Billion US$)
Year Direct Contribution Total Contribution
2006 1629.02 5160.35
2007 1809.37 5765.03
2008 1928.47 6259.57
2009 1794.88 5803.03
2010 1911.51 6108.56
2011 2157.06 6925.29
2012 2207.37 7094.29
2013 2304.81 7432.19
2014 2388.31 7674.79
2015 2320.93 7444.04
2016 2381.10 7650.17
2017 2567.88 8240.74
2018 2750.65 8810.96
2019 2892.94 9258.29
2020 1394.52 4462.90
Source:https://www.statista.com/statistics/233223/travel-and-tourism--total-economic-contribution-worldwide/
3) Tourism Industry in Sri Lanka: “Tourism Industry” is defined as the set of enterprises, establishments and organizations
providing goods and services for satisfying tourists’ needs as their principal activities. (Cooper, 1998: Theobald, 1994). When
we look at the different types of industries which generate more income to any type of a country we could see the
deviation among the countries. As same as the other industries even in the tourism industry the leader ship has taken by the
Western developed countries. But some developing countries with full of natural beauties could caught a competitive
edge in the world tourism industry. Endowed with a unique mixture of favorable climate, golden beaches, abundant
wildlife, and rich cultural heritage, Sri Lanka is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region. According to the
World Tourism Organization, Sri Lanka has the advantage of having 49 sites classified as unique attractions, 91 as rare
attractions, and 7 world heritage sites, and 6 of the 300 ancient monuments in the world (de Silva, 2000).
International Journal for Research in Applied Science & Engineering Technology (IJRASET)
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Source - https://www.statista.com/statistics/233223/travel-and-tourism--total-economic- contribution-worldwide/
Figure 1- Direct and total contribution of travel and tourism to GDP from 2006- 2020 (billion US$)
Sri Lanka has identified as a tourism destination because of its geographical position. Its strategic location in the Indian
Ocean on the major air and sea routes between Europe and the Far East is an advantage to the country’s positioning as a global
logistics hub (Sri Lanka Info, 2011). As a result of this geographical location of Sri Lanka became colony of three western powers
in the past. The colonization was imposed by the Portuguese (1505-1656), the Dutch (1956-1796) and the British (1796-1948)
Thirty years ethnic conflict of the country has made negative impact to the development in the tourism sector. After the war the
governments of the country have taken many positive movements against the development of the tourism industry to make Sri
Lanka the best tourist destination in the world.
The institutional frame work was developed gradually by the governing parties at time to time to develop the tourism sector. The
entire responsibility of the tourism industry has vested to the Ministry of Tourism. The responsibility of all the tourism
development activities vested to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority which was formed in 2005 by replacing Sri Lanka
Tourist Board which was established in 1966. The Tourism Promotion Bureau is responsible for all the marketing and promotional
works of the tourism industry.
4) Tourism Policy Frame works in Sri Lanka: The open economy system has introduced to Sri Lanka in 1977 and all the political
parties which came in to the power have formulated many policies towards the development of tourism industry. The former
president of Sri Lanka Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksha has presented his election manifesto “Mahinda Chinthana: vision for a new
Sri Lanka”. It was a ten year horizon development frame work for 2006 to 2016. Till 2009 the tourism industry was not that
attractive due three decades of war, violence and disasters. During that period of time the sector and the related parties were
survived even though that there were comparatively less number of tourists have visited. After the war has ended he has
targeted to transform Sri Lanka as a “Dynamic Global Hub” which is strategically important as an economic center of the
world. In this proposed dynamic global hub has comprised Naval, Aviation, Commercial, Energy and Knowledge hub serving
as a key link between the East and West. In 2015, former president Hon. Maithripala Sirisena has identified the tourism sector
to be one of the main sector to develop the country. His election manifesto named as “Compassionate Government, Maithri,
and A stable Country” also has highlighted the same. He has developed a “Sri Lanka Tourism Strategic Plan 2017-2020” and
it has made a positive impact and recorded the highest tourist arrivals in 2018. The present president of Sri Lanka Hon.
Gotabhaya Rajapaksha has paid more attention to grab more foreign exchange up to US$ 10 billion through increasing the
annual tourist arrivals to 7 million people and he has include that in his election manifesto “ Vistas of Prosperity and
Splendors”. He came in to power in 17th of November 2019 and in early 2020 the entire country has locked down due to
COVID 19 pandemic. As an outcome of that the tourist arrivals and domestic mobilization has declined drastically
resulting the collapse of the tourism industry.
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5) Findings on current status of the Tourism Industry in Sri Lanka: In current scenario, the whole world is suffering from
COVID 19 pandemic situation. The threat enforced by this pandemic has created probably one of the uncountable
challenges ever encountered by humanity. As a result of that, day to day activities of the people and their movements have
restricted by the rule of law and the negative impacts of the nature. Since this has endangered the world irrespective
of social and economic background the nature and the culture of the countries have changed drastically. Therefore the entire
world has paid their attention to get rid of the virus and its’ effects to the world at large. While the medical experts paid
their attention tirelessly and collaboratively to find vaccine against the virus, the others are fully focused on how to upgrade
the declined economy and other social problems. Before the pandemic situation the revenue contribution from the tourism
industry was significant. In 2017 tourism industry has generated US$ 3.9 billion where as in 2018it has arose by 12% reporting
the revenue income of US$ 4.4. In 2019 the revenue generated has reported as US$ 3.6 billion and 50% revenue loss has
reported in year 2020 due to pandemic situation. (https://www.sltda.gov.lk)
Source - https://www.sltda.gov.lk
Figure 2- Revenue income Generated (Billion US $)
The revenue income of year 2019 has decreased due to fall in tourist arrivals by 18% compared to the year 2018. This has
happened due to the Easter Sunday bomb attack on 21st of April 2019. This has implied that even after three decades of war Sri
Lanka is still suffering with the terrorist activities. By increasing that drawback in tourism industry the COVID 19 pandemic has
resulted a huge disaster not only to the country but, to the whole world. Therefore, the tourist arrivals in 2020 has declined
rapidly. Table 2- Tourists Arrivals to Sri Lanka
Month 2019 2020* % Cha. 2019/20
January 244,239 228,434 (6.5)
February 252,033 207,507 (17.7)
March 244,328 71,370 (70.8)
April 166,975 --- ---
May 37,802 --- ---
June 63,072 --- ---
July 115,701 --- ---
August 143,587 --- ---
September 108,575 --- ---
October 118,743 --- ---
November 176,984 --- ---
December 241,663 393 (99.8)
Total 1,913,702 507,704 (73.5)
Source: https://www.sltda.gov.lk
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Year 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
D
ir
e
c
t
E
p
l
oy
ent
135,930
146,115
156,369
169,003
173,592
I
nd
ir
e
c
t
E
p
l
oy
ent
183,506
189,544
202,846
219,484
229,015
Tot
a
l
Em
p
l
o
y
m
e
n
t
319,436
335,659
259,215
388,487
402607
Source - https://www.sltda.gov.lk
Figure 3- Tourists Arrivals to Sri Lanka 2019/2020
During the pandemic situation due to the novel systems and methods invented by the government, health service and the
public sector with the contribution of private sector have established tourism safety protocols to ensure the safety of tourists
as well as the domestic people in later 2020 and open the country for tourists in January 2021. Because of the positive outcome of
hard effort World Travel and Tourism Council has awarded “Safe Travel Stamp” in August 2020. In order to find out whether the
hotels are following health and safety protocols an independent audit has been appointed by the Sri Lanka Tourists Development
Authority. The feedback from tourists on whether the hotels are following health and safety protocols for this “Safe and Secure”
certification has obtained from QR code. To facilitate this method a Mobile App called “Sri Lanka tourism Travel App Mobile
Version 0” has developed with the support of the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and the United
Nations development Program (UNDP). This Mobile App has shared some links with the web portal of the Department of
Immigration and Migration and it has used to provide travel information for tourists and to maintain information regarding the
loyalty towards the health protocols. By inventing and implementing these methods and systems the government has initiated a pilot
program to open country for the tourists based on “Bio Bubble” concept. Under this program tourist must stay in approved hotels
and visit the tourist destinations within the prior approved time frame by using approved transport facilities. Through this concept
tourists don’t have to comply with the conventional quarantine process and restricted the contact with local people. This concept has
opened the door to 393 tourists to Sri Lanka in 2020.
Table 3 - Direct and Indirect Employments in the Tourism Industry of Sri Lanka
Source: Annual Report -2019; Central Bank of Sri Lanka; 2020; 185
In Sri Lanka, direct and indirect labour force involved in the tourism industry counts to a significant portion of the total labour
force. During the post war period lot of people have attracted to the tourism industry due to the increase in the government
support given to the sector and the ability to earn an attractive benefits with comparatively higher wages. This pattern was continued
till the early months of 2019 with small fluctuations which are not that much significant. The labour force involved in the tourism
industry have declined due to Easter Sunday attack and later on in early 2020 lot of employees have lost their jobs due to
COVID 19 pandemic.
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Source - Annual Report -2019; Central Bank of Sri Lanka; 2020; 185
Figure 3- Employments in the Tourism Sector
III. RECOMMENDATION
A. Sri Lankan government should focus about the formulation of strategic plan for tourism world as a whole and about the
forecasted future crisis.
B. Should pay more attention on Community Based Tourism, Agri Tourism and Eco Tourism as sub sectors of the tourism
industry. Should take necessary actions to provide more infrastructure facilities to the above sectors to upgrade the existing
facilities in order to attract more tourists.
C. Should establish sophisticated network system including all the related parties of the tourism industry to facilitate the tracking
and providing quality service par with the health regulations and advices.
D. Awareness programs should be conducted to acknowledge people about how to live with COVID 19 pandemic and/or any
other pandemic or crisis which can arise in the future.
E. All the other industries which are indirectly related to the tourism industry should be restructured and developed in order to
facilitate the tourism industry to be operated in the pandemic situation.
F. Should develop domestic travelling as well as foreign travelling to protect the interest of the parties related to the industry even
at the pandemic situations.
G. Tourism industry should be enriched with the psychological touch to upgrade the living standards of the people who are
suffering due to pandemic situations. Promotion of short distance travelling with all the high quality facilities at an
affordable price would be a good solution to the mobilization restrictions.
H. The administrative bodies of the tourism should be empowered more to execute all the rules and regulations to standardized the
tourism sector to be in line with the international standards.
I. Preparation of medical facilities to the tourists such as PCR tests and quarantine processes should be well organized,
economical and user friendly to capture the tourists attraction.
IV. CONCLUSIONS
The history of the tourism industry in Sri Lanka has revealed that it is an important sector which can contribute significant portion
of the revenue income towards the development of the country. If Sri Lanka can manage and operate by mitigating or eliminating
any war experiences, ethnic conflicts, crisis or pandemics then still there is an opportunity to develop tourism industry to reach the
development of the country.
International Journal for Research in Applied Science & Engineering Technology (IJRASET)
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REFERENCES
[1] Adrian, S.C. (2017). The Impact of Tourism on the Global Economic System. “Ovidius” University Annals, Economic Sciences Series Volume XVII, Issue 1.
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[2] De Silva, C. (2000).Tourism and sustainable development. The Island. Retrieved from http://www.island.lk/2000/06/13/ islfetrs.html
[3] Fernando, S. (2016). Managing the Post-War Tourism Development in Sri Lanka. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 7(11), 90-100
[4] Fernando, S. (2017a). The Tourism - Led Tourism Development Strategy in Sri Lanka. Journal of Business and Technology, 1(1), 38-52
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GRIN Verilog
[6] Honey H. and R. Gilpin (2009). Tourism in the Developing World Promoting Peace and Reducing Poverty. United States Institute of Peace.
[7] Central Banka Annual Report – Central Banka of Sri Lanka, Colombo – 2004-2019
[8] https://www.sltda.gov.lk
[9] http://www.tourismmin.gov.lk https://www.cbsl.gov.lk
[10] https://www.unwto.org https://wttc.org/Research/Economic-Impact
[11] https://www.statista.com/statistics/233223/travel-and-tourism--total-economic-contribution- worldwide/
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
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Sri Lankan tourism has managed to recover quickly since the end of war in 2009. After recognising the role of post-war tourism, the Sri Lankan government has launched a Tourism Development Strategy (TDS) plan. Sri Lanka Tourism is confident that the new strategic direction will move the country forward as a most sought travel destination in Asia while all stakeholders of the industry reap its benefits. This study evaluated the post-war tourism boom and the targets of Sri Lankan government’s TDS and empirically explored the targets set in the TDS by using a simple econometric model. The econometric analysis suggests that tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka would increase by 21.5 per cent per year if the peaceful environment continues in Sri Lanka. There are a number of impediments to be recognised in achieving the targets set out TDS. It is clear that within the next few years, tourism industry will become a sustainable sector in the Sri Lankan economy being the top GDP contributor within next few years.
Article
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Sri Lanka has an ability to become one of the best tourism countries (TCs) in Asia. However, it missed opportunities on a number of occasions due to inappropriate economic policies, continuous political violence and wars. Since 1983 the Sri Lankan tourism sector was seriously affected by the nearly three decades of separatist war which ended in May 2009. Immediately after the end of war tourism in Sri Lanka bounced back and it now has become the engine of economic growth in post war Sri Lanka. In this paper, a historical analysis has been undertaken to demonstrate how Sri Lanka miss matched their development strategies in terms of tourism, although the country had potential to attract record number of tourists. The post-war tourism boom has given Sri Lankans and the Sri Lankan tourism sector new hopes and optimism. This paper demonstrates that the Sri Lankan tourism sector has potential and opportunities to play a vital role in the post-war inclusive development strategy in terms of generating much needed foreign exchange, poverty alleviation via employment generation, accelerating economic growth and uplifting living standards of all Sri Lankans. Keywords: Sri Lanka, tourism, tourism development strategies, tourism boom, post-war development,
The Impact of Tourism on the Global Economic System
  • S C Adrian
Adrian, S.C. (2017). The Impact of Tourism on the Global Economic System. "Ovidius" University Annals, Economic Sciences Series Volume XVII, Issue 1. Retrieved from http://stec.univ ovidius.ro/html/anale/ENG/2017/Section-IV/22.pdf
Tourism demand, volatility and post-war tourism in Sri Lanka
  • S Fernando
Fernando, S. (2017b). Tourism demand, volatility and post-war tourism in Sri Lanka.Nymphenburger Str. 86, 80636 Munchen, Germany: GRIN Verilog
Tourism in the Developing World Promoting Peace and Reducing Poverty
  • H Honey
  • R Gilpin
Honey H. and R. Gilpin (2009). Tourism in the Developing World Promoting Peace and Reducing Poverty. United States Institute of Peace.