Sri Lanka tourism figures show increase in European visitors

Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka from Western Europe jumped over 35 percent in March while arrivals from South Asia declined , the data released by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Wednesday showed.

The month recorded 91,102 tourists arriving in the country compared to the 75,130 arrived in March 2011.

Overall, Sri Lanka has recorded a 21.1 percent increase in the number of tourist arrivals in March this year, compared to the same period last year. A total of260,525 tourists arrived in the first quarter of the year, while 215,124 tourists arrived last year during the same period.

The most number of tourists to Sri Lanka in March arrived from Western Europe. A total of 40,686 tourists arrived from the region recording a 35.6 percent increase in arrivals.

Arrivals from UK topped at a total of 12,032, mostly with the cricket fans visited for the Sri Lanka-England Test series.

Number of visitors from neighbouring South Asian countries dropped by 7.3 percent compared to March 2011. However visitors from India were up by 2.1 percent.

Since the end of the war against the Tamil Tiger terrorists in May 2009, the country has seen increasing tourist arrivals every year for the past two years and Sri Lanka targets one million tourist arrivals this year.

Sri Lanka launched an ambitious five-year plan under the guidance of the Economic Development Minister to boost tourism in the country. Under the plan Sri Lanka expects to raise the number of arrivals to 2.5 million and to earn annual revenue of US$ 2.75 billion by 2016.

In an effort to meet the demand for accommodation for the increased number of visitors the government is vigorously launching construction of new resorts and hotels in coastal areas to add 35,000 rooms within the next four years.

According to the Central bank, tourism is one of the main contributors for the country’s $59 billion economy along with remittances from expatriate workers, garments and tea.

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