Integrated Annual Report 2022/23

Led by Classic Travel, Sri Lanka's largest travel company.

Leisure sector Business model


Expolanka’s operations in the leisure sector comprises corporate travel, outbound leisure, inbound, Visa solutions, and ground services – with Classic Travel at the helm of the cluster.

Classic Travel is an IATA accredited travel agency with nearly three decades of industry experience. Offering end-to-end travel solutions for both the corporate and leisure markets, the Company has established itself as a market leader in Sri Lanka’s travel industry. With the cluster headquarters strategically located in Colombo, Classic Travel has expanded its presence with two branches in Beruwala and Rathnapura, and forged international partnerships expanding its footprint to new markets such as Bangladesh.

Classic Destinations, the sister company of Classic Travel, operates as a destination management company that specialises in providing bespoke travel experiences to inbound and domestic travellers.

Expo Visa Services, the independent Visa services arm of the leisure portfolio, enables the cluster to maximise synergies and independently deliver visa consultancy and support services to a wide swathe of customers.

Financial highlights

2023 2022 Change
Revenue 3,098 974 218
Gross profit 2,245 635 254
Earnings before interest
and taxes (EBIT)
1,095 54 1,928
Net finance cost (55) (5) 1,000
Profit before tax 1,040 49 2,022
Profit after tax 811 38 2,034
Total assets 2,470 1,363 81
Total equity 1,263 486 160
Total debt 448 461 -3
Capital employed 1,711 947 81
Return on equity 92.7% 8.2% 1,031
Return on capital employed 65.2% 5.4% 1,110

Sector Performance

Expolanka’s travel cluster was strongly positioned to capitalise on resurgence and momentum of the global and local travel sector. The cluster leveraged new growth opportunities in the market and achieved an outstanding performance during the year under review.

The cluster’s transformational strategy implemented in 2020/21 to gear up for future expansion has yielded favourable outcomes. The sector recorded a revenue of Rs. 3,098 Mn., which is a 218% YoY increase. The cluster’s Corporate Travel segment continues to contribute the largest volume of revenue, supported by the outbound leisure segment. The sector’s strong performance was driven by revival of international travel, restarting of the MICE sector, pent-up demand for corporate travel, and growth opportunities related to student and emigrant travellers. Inbound destination management also showed favourable results, on the back of onboarding one of the largest franchises from Europe.

Sri Lanka faced a challenging start to the 2022/23 financial year due to the economic crisis and political unrest. However, Expolanka’s leisure sector recorded strong consistent performance throughout the four quarters despite market conditions.

Supported by an efficient cost structure resulting from our rightsizing efforts, disciplined cost management, and increased productivity measures, the cluster achieved strong operating leverage with improved margins. As a result, Classic Travel delivered its best financial performance on record with an increase in turnover of over 78% compared to pre-COVID levels. This exceptional performance was driven by growth in market share, efficient procurement, and the Company’s consolidation of a lean operating structure and business model during the last few years.

Despite airfare remaining at a premium across markets and carriers, we maintained relatively competitive pricing for customers through our strong, long-standing relationships with many leading airlines. Our main focus remained on effective procurement to ensure that pricing remained competitive. The sector’s value-based service portfolio, providing a differentiated experiential service to customers, continued to be a boon during the year; enabling effective performance at a transactional level.

Classic Travel maintained its dominant position in the Sri Lankan corporate travel market, holding a significant portion of the market share. The Company’s reputation and track record have made it the preferred agency for many of Sri Lanka’s leading companies for their international travel needs. Our efforts to expand our customer base proved successful and we were able to win new corporate accounts in the apparel, technology, manufacturing, exports, services, and gem and jewellery industries, which contributed to our strong performance.

Great Place to Work 2022

Classic Travel was certified as a “Great Workplace in Sri Lanka” for the 8th consecutive year. This accolade serves as a testament to the company's strong corporate values and commitment to maintaining a positive and supportive work environment. As a service provider, we recognise that our most important asset is our staff. We take pride in prioritising the health and safety, as well as the satisfaction and engagement, of our team.

With our complete suite of services and commitment to providing after-sales guarantees, we were able to offer customers dependability and reliability at an uncertain and challenging time. In addition, we were able to capitalise on the uptick in the MICE market and group travel, which had been stagnant following the 2019 Easter attacks and COVID-19 pandemic.

Building on the digitalisation journey that we embarked on during the period of lockdown, Classic Travel launched a new platform in January 2023 for the B2B market that was aimed at driving the topline and contributing to improved procurement. In the months that followed the launch, we recorded strong progress in onboarding B2B agents.

Sector Strategy

Portfolio strengthening

Inbound Travel


Capacity development

Partner development


A rebounding travel sector

The global tourism industry experienced a robust rebound in the 2022/23 period, with over 900 million tourists travelling internationally during the year 2022. This marked a twofold year-on-year (YoY) increase. All regions experienced noteworthy growth in international tourist arrivals, except for Asia and the Pacific, which only reached 23%, primarily due to more stringent pandemic-related restrictions, which only eased in late 2022. Several regions worldwide are projected to reach 80% to 95% of their pre-pandemic levels of international tourist arrivals in 2023/24. Nevertheless, the extent of global economic slowdown, recovery of travel in Asia and the Pacific, and development of the war in Ukraine, would continue to influence international travel.

Alongside the leisure sector’s rapid rebound after the setbacks of the COVID-19 pandemic, business travel is gradually making a comeback, while navigating new and distinct challenges brought on sluggish economic conditions across the globe, which could hinder complete recovery.

Most destinations have experienced noteworthy growth in international tourism receipts. This can be attributed to several factors: longer periods of stay resulting in higher average spending per trip, travellers' willingness to spend more on experiences, and elevated travel costs due to inflation.

At the same time, prevailing economic conditions have resulted in a rise in both airline operating costs and fares, which in turn has hampered growth in international airline ticket sales. This may lead tourists to adopt a more cautious approach in 2023, manifesting in: reduced spending, shorter trips, and a preference for trips closer to home.

Recovery of the tourism industry in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka welcomed over 700,000 tourists to the Island during 2022, trending upward after a notably dry year in 2021. The first quarter of 2023 showed a continual uptick in tourist numbers reflecting double-digit growth YoY, and auguring well for the sector. The political and economic crisis that intensified from March to August in 2022 had a significant impact on the tourism sector, leading to the issuance of several travel advisories against visiting the country. Despite these challenges, the return to stability in the third quarter prompted a positive growth trajectory in tourist arrivals in the latter months.

Driving the resurgence, the top three countries generating tourist traffic to Sri Lanka in 2023 were India, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Following the lifting of pandemic-related travel restrictions, China is expected to regain its position as a major source market for Sri Lankan inbound tourism in the 2023/24 financial year.


Sector plans and prospects

As the Sri Lankan economy enters a recovery phase, demand for outbound corporate travel is rebounding. Most local companies resumed international travel after the easing of travel restrictions, and while pent-up demand in the corporate travel sector is expected to ease as market conditions normalise, we expect opportunities in corporate travel to grow. Revival and turnaround of Sri Lankan businesses would support growth, particularly in the apparel and IT sectors where business relationships are a matter of priority.

New and emerging market opportunities are also opening-up, with demand for overseas education and niche leisure travel. Classic Travel is well positioned to capitalise on these new market opportunities and service growing demand in emerging sectors.

Inbound travel gained momentum in the last quarter of the year under review, with inbound tourist numbers showing a promising trend for Sri Lanka. Given a stable socio-economic environment in Sri Lanka, we expect to see an increase in demand for destination weddings and events, as well as growth in the MICE segment. Anticipating steady growth for our inbound operations in the period ahead, we have expanded our strategic partner network to improve destination marketing, which we expect will create interest in nearly 200 countries, including the Australian, European, and Eastern European markets.

Looking overseas, the sector’s growth plans are on track with international operations beginning to gain traction. Growth in this regard is expected to contribute significantly to sectoral performance in the coming years. Building on the success of our entrance into Bangladesh and Dubai, we will continue to explore key opportunities to diversify and strengthen our international presence and enhance our portfolio.

To establish a worldwide presence, we have implemented a digitalisation plan which includes a centralised office in Sri Lanka. Innovation and digitalisation will remain priorities as we aim to enhance our presence, reach, product offering, value-addition, and customer service.

Classic Travel is positioned to propel the Group's leisure sector to new heights in the upcoming year. Our experienced leadership team is committed to delivering on our robust corporate strategy, which is built on a solid foundation of differentiation, customer experience and value, ensuring that we remain the preferred choice for customers seeking travel services.