Sri Lanka Tourist Arrivals Hit Record High

November 10, 2011

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Sri Lanka's tourist arrivals in the first 10 months of the year have surpassed 2010's record as visitor numbers to the island nation continued to rise each month on a year-on-year basis since a 25-year civil war ended in May 2009.

Tourist arrivals in the first ten months of 2011 jumped 34.2 percent to 667,569 from a year earlier, higher than Sri Lanka's record annual tourist arrivals of 654,476 reached last year.

The arrivals rose 32.8 percent in October from a year earlier to 69,563.

The government is targeting annual revenue of USD$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 USD$3 billion in foreign direct investment.

Sri Lanka has forecast 20 percent growth in visitor arrivals this year to more than 780,000 people. Last year, the industry grew at 46 percent. The island's tourism industry drew USD$1.2 billion for investment in the first half of 2011.

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

-- Sri Lanka aims to attract USD$2.7 billion in investment to upgrade its post-war tourism capacity.

-- 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 USD$50 billion economy along with remittances from expatriate workers, garments and tea.

(Reuters)