Cruise Holidays to Sri Lanka on the up

Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau says that 20 luxury cruise liners will call at Sri Lanka’s ports this year bringing thousands of tourists to the country.

Arcadia cruise ship of UK’s Carnival PLC was the first of the lineup that reached Colombo Port last week with 2100 tourists from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil.

According to the Sri Lanka Port Authority officials, more than 20 such luxury carriers, coordinated by the Shipping Agency Services (Pvt) limited, had already been programmed to tie up in Colombo by the end of 2012.

Some of the international cruise lines already making regular calls in the island’s ports include Carnival Cruises, Swan Hellenic and Crystal Cruises.

The island used to attract about 130 cruise ships a year before the conflict but saw cruise calls falling by nearly half during the three-decade war. Even during the war the country used to get about 65-75 cruise vessels a year, says Lanka Business Online.

Last year around 30 cruise lines have called at Sri Lankan ports. Although the industry is somewhat affected by the current global economic crisis Sri Lanka hopes the industry will pick up in due time.

Sri Lanka has high expectations to boost the number of tourist arrivals to 950,000 by the end of this year.

Tourism officials say the development in the tourism sector is also vital to the economic development of the island.

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