Domestic search interest in travels has increased by 109% Y-o-Y in the June-August period for travel-related inquiries on booking engines. The Sri Lanka Tourism Alliance (SLTA) has launched the Locals Love Sri Lanka Organisation which provides advertising of package holidays to locals free of charge. The site does not charge a commission from either the traveller or hotel.

In terms of regional travel interest by locals, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya remain on top as they did from 2018 onwards. Bentota and Yala have seen an increase in their relative regional interest. The rankings of Sigiriya, Anuradhapura, and Ella have dropped relatively and are now below Bentota and Yala. Galle remains the third most popular region.

These figures were made public by the SLTA ON 24 September on an industry experience sharing webinar.

In terms of booking engine search data by locals, there is a decline Y-o-Y across the board for budget hotels. Nuwara Eliya and Bentota have seen declines in interest by 50% in the segment.

Bungalows in Yala have seen interest grow Y-o-Y by 179%. Villas in Nuwara Eliya and Yala have seen interest growth Y-o-Y by 127% and 129% respectively.

Boutique hotels in Nuwara Eliya have seen a Y-o-Y increase of 150% while in Bentota they have seen a decline of 50%.

Villas across the regional board have seen Y-o-Y growth at least of 50%. Interest in Hotels remains mostly stagnant across regions.

Demand has dropped by 67% for safaris, 56% for whale watching, 48% for surfing, 34% for trekking,33% for diving, and 8% for wellness. Romantic/Honeymoon experiences have grown by 17%. Founder Resplendent Ceylon Malik Fernando said “Locals are discovering Sri Lanka after the tourists did. With the promotions, you have the opportunity to discover your own homeland.”