Sri Lanka Tourism Up 27 Percent In February

March 18, 2012

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Sri Lanka's tourist arrivals jumped 27 percent in February from a year earlier, with visitor totals climbing every month on a year-on-year basis since a 25-year civil war ended in May 2009 in spite of the global economic slowdown.

Visitors in February were 83,549 from 65,797 in the same month last year and arrivals were up 21 percent in the first two months of the year compared to the same period last year.

In 2011, arrivals jumped 30.8 percent to a record 855,975 from a year earlier, beating Sri Lanka's previous record of 654,476 in 2010, data from the tourism board shows.

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.

Western Europeans, who account for more than 40 percent of the total arrivals to the island nation, jumped 23.4 percent to 38,364, while visitors from East Asia jumped 47.4 percent to 10,256 and South Asia rose 14.1 percent to 15,504 in the month.

The island's tourism board expects 950,000 tourists in 2012 with a revenue of more than USD$1 billion, more than 20 percent from 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 jumped 44.2 percent to a record USD$830.3 million last year after gaining 64.8 percent in 2010 to USD$575.9 million, central bank data shows.

(Reuters)