Sri Lanka Tourism Numbers Hit December Record

January 6, 2012

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Sri Lanka's tourist arrivals hit a record high in December and for 2011 as the island-nation attracted more visitors from across the world, largely high-spending European tourists, government data showed on Friday.

Arrivals have climbed every month on a year-on-year basis since a 25-year civil war ended in May 2009.

Tourist arrivals in December hit a monthly record of 97,517, up 15.2 percent from a year earlier, surpassing the island nation's previous monthly peak of 90,889 in November.

Arrivals in 2011 jumped 30.8 percent to 855,975 from a year earlier, higher than Sri Lanka's previous record of 654,476 in 2010.

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. Tourists numbers from Western Europe jumped 22.7 percent to 315,210, accounting for 37 percent of the total, while visitors from South Asia jumped 35.3 percent to 237,647, accounting for 28 percent of the total.

The total arrivals are well beyond the 2011 estimate of more than 780,000.

The tourism board expects 950,000 tourists in 2012 with revenue of more than USD$1 billion, more than 20 percent higher than last year's estimated USD$800 million. Last year, arrivals grew by 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 46.7 percent in the first 11 months of 2011 from a year earlier to USD$735.7 million, central bank data showed.

(Reuters)