Sri Lanka 2016 tourist arrivals to exceed 2.2mn target: Minister
Jul 08, 2016 06:48 AM GMT+0530 | 1 Comment(s)
ECONOMYNEXT - Sri Lanka could get as much as 2.5 million tourist arrivals in 2016, higher than the official target of 2.2 million, Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said as growth slumped to a record low in June.
"We hope we could come up to about 2.5 million tourists by the end of the year," Amaratunga told reporters in Colombo.
"The indications are very good. The bookings are encouraging. Travel agents are confident, tour agents are confident, hoteliers are confident that they will have very good occupancy from September onwards.
"Even August is a month we get tourists from Middle East and Asia countries."
In June tourist arrivals grew only 2.2 percent with sharp drops from Muslim majority countries in the Middle East, South Asia and East Asia in the fasting month of Ramadan.
In 2015 tourist arrivals grew 17.8 percent to 1,798,380 or by 217,000 visitors. Sri Lanka's arrivals have to grow by 400,000 to reach a 2.2 million target and 700,000 to reach 2.5 million.
Tourist arrivals grew 16.2 percent to 964,267 up to June 2016, from a year earlier, compared to a 14.1 percent growth to 830,051 in 2015.
Sri Lanka usually gets larger volumes of tourists, especially from Western Europe in the so-called winter season from September to about February.
Sri Lanka's tourist arrivals have grown sharply after a 30-year war ended in in May 2009.
Sri Lanka is hosting a conference on 'Tourism: A Catalyst for Development, Peace and Reconciliation' with the UN's World Tourism organization in the former war torn Eastern Province.
The conference in the Eastern resort of Passekudah, has also drawn about 75 foreign delegates and will give more exposure to tourist attractions and facilities in former war-torn areas, Minister Amaratunga said.
Delegates will also visit Jaffna in the north. (Colombo/July08/2016)