Thursday, August 13, 2009

Post war Sri Lanka's July tourist arrivals up 28 pct

COLOMBO, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's tourist arrivals jumped 28 percent in July from a year ago, its second straight rise since May last year due to the end of of a decades-long war, the Indian Ocean island nation's tourism board said on Thursday.
"This is mainly due to the peace situation in the country," S. Kalaiselvam, director general at the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, told Reuters.

Overall arrivals in January-July fell 10.6 percent to 129,952 compared to 257,345 a year ago, mainly due to a drop in visitors from western Europe and south Asia.

But more visitors were coming, since January-June arrivals fell by 16.3 percent, data showed.

"We are confident of achieving at least similar to last year's figure and revenue. Our target is to get 2.5 million tourists and $2.5 billion revenue in 2016," Kalaiselvam said.

Sri Lanka's military declared victory over Tamil Tiger separatists in a 25-year war on May 18.

Sri Lanka received 438,475 visitors in 2008, a drop of 11.2 percent from a year earlier. Tourist revenue declined by 11.2 percent to $342 million as visitors stayed away because of intense fighting.

Sri Lanka is targeting half a million arrivals and $400 million in earnings in 2010.
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