Greater acceptance of digital payments will encourage more tourists to visit Sri Lanka; Visa

Tourism in Sri Lanka has the potential to grow with greater acceptance of digital payments and cards, says Sandeep Ghosh Group Country Manager for India and South Asia – Visa. This is increasingly relevant in a post-Covid world where travelers increasingly look for various choices of travel such as wellness and sustainability.

Ghosh noted that the modern travelers look for experiential travel, not just tourist hotspots, seeking genuine connections with local communities – data shows that 71% of consumers are seeking to connect with real people in everything they do in 2022 as opposed to pre-Covid figures of 66% in 2019.

The Sustainable Travel Report of 2022 shows that 66% of people surveyed wanted ‘authentic’ experiences that give insight into local culture and customs, away from exaggerated tourist attractions. 51% of travelers were found to consider low or zero carbon emissions as a key facet of sustainable travel while also expecting accessibility to seamless payment wherever they travel.

Spiritual and wellness travel and prioritizing mental health has also become popular for travelers as an option.

” The figures from local media shows that during the last three months, tourists visiting Sri Lanka have crossed the 100, 000 mark. There is potential for Sri Lanka to increase the volume to that of pre-covid and grow the numbers. In the post pandemic world, there are many more nuances to choose from than previously ; there was luxury and budget tourism. Now there is eco-tourist/sustainable, there is health and wellness tourism, we have a lot of data on how people travel as tourists – where do they spend? what do they spend? What are changes in consumer spending patterns, behaviors and preferences when it comes to their tourism options. Sharing these insights with the relevant stakeholders will help Sri Lanka market itself in a more structured way to the world. “, Ghosh points out.

“One of the specific benefits of digital payments and cards as a form of internet banking is bringing more into the formal ecosystem. Increase in transparency and trust while eliminating leakages is vital as societies migrate from cash based to digital.” Ghosh adds,” Going digital also adds points to the GDP of the country and brings more and more into formal economy than informal. “

“Visa would like to play a critical and proactive role in helping the transition from cash to digital happen in Sri Lanka – we believe in supporting that by encouraging greater acceptance of digital payments through working with our banking partners as well as partners and alliances and to increase the penetration of cards into the market. “

“Visa works with banks to increase the acceptance of cards in the market – data shows that a large number of students from the developed world visit – they are used to paying with cards than cash because it’s a lot safer, transparent and card payments can be monitored for those who use cards in other parts of the world. We believe that working with banks to increase acceptance of cards across all tourist related segments would encourage more tourists to visit Sri Lanka.”

” Being able to pay by card even for services provided by small and medium scale tourism service providers or for transport within the country, would be critical for growth of tourism in the country. Establishing the right infrastructure and protocols that are required for seamless card payments and transit systems has to be looked at – today, the preferred mode of payment is contactless payment – tourists like this a lot and it establishes a high level of trust.”

Ghosh adds that these travel insights and adapting global practices around changing patterns, can enable targeting the right kind of tourists with the right kind of value propositions. It also can capture good feedback on user experiences.