Sri Lanka drops to 76th in 2024 Tourism Development Index

Tourists looking at Sigiriya in Sri Lanka

(Photo by Lou Lou B Photo on Unsplash)

Sri Lanka is ranked 76th in the Travel and Tourism Development Index (TTDI) 2024, as the country scored poorly in the categories of tourism services and infrastructure, cultural resources, and non-leisure resources.

The TTDI is a biennial report published by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the University of Surrey. It measures the factors and policies that enable the sustainable and resilient development of the travel and tourism (T&T) sector, which contributes to a country’s overall development.

In the 2024 TTDI, Sri Lanka recorded a score of 3.69, maintaining its 2019 score. However, it fell one spot in the ranking to 76th among 119 countries, scoring 6.8 percent below the average for these countries. Sri Lanka performed poorly in tourism services and infrastructure, cultural resources, and non-leisure resources categories but scored high in price competitiveness and travel and tourism socio-economic impact.

Sri Lanka’s competitors, such as Vietnam (59th), Thailand (47th), Indonesia (22nd), and Malaysia (35th), ranked higher in the index. Additionally, India (39th) topped the ranking in South Asia, followed by Sri Lanka. However, the Maldives was not included in the index.

Among the top 30 scorers in the 2024 index, 26 are high-income economies. Nineteen are in Europe, seven in Asia-Pacific, three in the Americas, and one (the United Arab Emirates) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The top 10 countries in the 2024 edition are the United States, Spain, Japan, France, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, Italy, and Switzerland.

The results highlight that high-income economies generally continue to have more favorable conditions for travel and tourism development, supported by conducive business environments, dynamic labor markets, open travel policies, strong transport and tourism infrastructure, and well-developed natural, cultural, and non-leisure attractions.

Nevertheless, developing countries have seen some of the greatest improvements in recent years. Among the upper-middle-income economies, China has cemented its ranking among the top 10. Major emerging travel and tourism destinations such as Indonesia, Brazil, and Turkey have joined China in the top quartile of the rankings.

More broadly, low- to upper-middle-income economies account for over 70 percent of countries that have improved their scores since 2019, while MENA and sub-Saharan Africa are among the most improved regions. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the only high-income economies to rank among the top 10 most improved economies between 2019 and 2024. Despite these strides, the TTDI warns that significant investment is needed to close gaps in enabling conditions and market share between developing and high-income countries.

One possible pathway to achieving this would be sustainably leveraging natural and cultural assets, which are less correlated with income levels than other factors and can offer developing economies an opportunity for tourism-led economic development.