Permanent peace was the key towards achieving this target as the terrorist problem that prevailed for 30 years saw several adverse travel advisories issued against Sri Lanka, which discouraged foreign tourists from visiting this country. Today, Sri Lankan tourism industry stakeholders say that Sri Lanka is among the safest countries in the universe, an accolade which even some developed countries are jealous of.
Last Thursday saw history of the tourism industry in the island being re-written, when the country welcomed the arrival of the 750,000th tourist in 2011 at the Bandaranaike International Airport.
This is the first time that the island’s tourism industry witnessed arrivals exceeding 700,000 in any given year, making it a ground-breaking figure in tourism records.
A team of officials from the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau and representatives from the Ministry of Economic Development welcomed the guest, Mohomad Albordiny and wife(Palestinian) who arrived in Sri Lanka via QR 302 flight from Doha at 4:15 p.m.
During 2010, the number of tourist arrivals recorded was 654,476 as opposed to 750,000 so far this year, which is a 34.2 percent annual growth. This year has seen a huge contribution from Latin American, Caribbean and western European countries including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, UK and Germany. These regions have accounted for 250,847 tourists, sharing a major portion of the 750,000 arrivals.
Sri Lanka Tourism offered a special gift and a complimentary package to this tourist, keeping its promise of rewarding the 750,000th tourist.
Similar rewards were available for the 250,000th, 500,000th and 600,000th tourist who visited Sri Lanka this year.
At the beginning of 2011, Sri Lanka Tourism launched its marketing campaign named “Refreshingly Sri Lanka – Visit 2011”, with the aim of showcasing Sri Lanka as an island with new-found freedom; a place where the visitor can experience everything that is refreshing under the sun.
With this new branding, Sri Lanka Tourism promoted eight segments encapsulating eight wonderful experiences which a tourist can enjoy within eight days. Though Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa is still not confident, the private sector feels that Sri Lanka can achieve the one billion US dollar mark by the end of this year.
All promotional activities and events in the next couple of years will be aimed at achieving the target number of 2.6 million tourists by 2016.