Sri Lanka’s main historical, and wildlife attractions had begun to draw more visitors, weaning the island away from being mainly a beach tourist destination, deputy economic development minister Lakshman Abeywardene said.
“Large numbers of tourists are visiting the Pinnawela elephant orphanage, Sigiriya (a rock fortress) and the Temple of the Tooth,” he said.
“This is showing that Sri Lanka is no longer just a beach destination.”
Sri Lanka has seen a steep increase in tourist arrivals following the end of a 30-year war in 2009. Up to November arrivals were up 33.1 percent to 758,458 exceeding an original 750,000 target for the full year.
Sri Lanka Tourist Promotion chief Rumi Marzook said a record 100,000 visitors are expected in December.
Sri Lanka received 654,476 tourists in 2010.
Out of that 293,721 or 44.8 percent had visited the Temple of the Tooth in the central hill town of Kandy, 229,359 or 35 percent had visited an elephant orphanage in Pinnawala and 32.23 percent or 201,949 had visited Sigiriya.
Over 32 percent or 210,949 had visited national botanical gardens, 24 percent or 160,586 had visited Sigiriya and 21.8 percent or 148,198 had visited wildlife parks.
The ancient city of Polonnaruwa had drawn 103,335 visitors of 15.7 percent of the total and Anuradhapura 75,917 or 11.6 percent of the total.
The Pinnawala elephant orphanage had earned 389 million rupees, the Temple of the Tooth 293 million rupees, Sigiriya 237 million, botanical gardens 123 million.
Polonnaruwa had earned 83.7 million rupees and Anuradhapura 14.8 million rupees.
Only 17,197 tourists or 2.63 percent had visited the Dehiwala Zoo, and 22,061 or 3.37 percent had visited national museums. The zoo had earned 20.6 million rupees and museums 9.8 million rupees.