Sri Lanka’s tourism sector sees 122% growth in January, says State Minister

A Sri Lankan State Minister on Sunday (03 March) said the country’s external sector performance has seen a marked improvement year on year, with tourism fetching $342 million in January 2024, an impressive 122% jump from last year.

Speaking in Ruwanwella, his home constituency, Minister of State for Finance Ranjith Siyambalapitiya was delving into the Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s external sector indicators issued mid-week.
Siyambalapitiya said the bank figures show that receipts from tourism had fetched $342 million, which is a 122% growth in January 2024 year-on-year.

The inward remittances from Sri Lankan expats in January 2024 had grown by 5% to $488 million up from $467 million in January 2023.

The Sri Lankan rupee, which had seen a massive slump during the unprecedented economic crisis, had appreciated by 14.6% in January of this year.

The foreign reserves had increased to $4.5 billion in January, up 114% from $2.1 billion in January 2023.

The economy recorded positive growth in the third quarter of 2023 after six successive quarters of negative growth, Siyambalapitiya said.

Sri Lanka, in the second quarter of 2022, had declared bankruptcy, announcing the island’s first-ever sovereign default. Negotiations with the IMF for a bailout began almost immediately and the first tranche of the $2.9 billion facility was released in March 2023.

The finance ministry officials said the IMF officials are due this week to carry out its second review, after which the third tranche of the facility could be released by around June. 

The IMF-dictated reforms have proved to be unpopular, with the government resorting to hard economic measures such as high taxes, cost-recovery tariffs for utilities and a programme to sell loss-making state-owned enterprises.

The opposition had vowed to renegotiate the IMF bailout to grant economic relief to the public hit by the economic crisis. By the end of the year, the presidential election is due to take place.