Sri Lanka tourism surges to record levels

Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals hit a record high in November and for the year, with visitor totals climbing every month on a year-on-year basis since a 25-year civil war ended in May 2009.

Tourist arrivals in November hit a monthly record of 90,889, up 25.8 per cent from October, surpassing the island nation’s previous monthly peak of 84,627 in December.

The arrivals in the first 11 months of 2011 jumped 33.1 per cent to 758,458 from a year earlier, higher than Sri Lanka’s record annual tourist arrivals of 654,476 in 2010.

The government is targeting annual revenue of $2.75 billion by 2016 from 2.5 million expected visitors attracted by Sri Lanka’s beaches, hills and religious and historic sites, while aiming for $3 billion in foreign direct investment.

Sri Lanka had forecast 20 per cent growth in visitor arrivals this year, or more than 780,000 people. Nalaka Godahewa, the head of Sri Lanka Tourism Board, on Friday said he expects this year’s arrivals to be as high as 830,000.

Last year, arrivals grew by 46 per cent. The island’s tourism industry drew $1.2 billion for investment in the first half of 2011.

Tourism revenue, which jumped 64.8 per cent in 2010 to a record $575.9 million, has risen 48.1 percent in the first nine months of this year from a year earlier to $580.1 million, central bank data shows.

  •  The hotel and travel index on the Colombo Stock Exchange has risen nearly fourfold since the end of the war.
  • Tourism is one of the main foreign exchange earners for Sri Lanka’s $50 billion economy along with remittances from expatriate workers, garments and tea.

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