Wednesday, February 24, 2010


By Mario Andree

Tourist arrivals are recovering well with arrivals in January growing by 31.9 percent to 50,757 from 38,468 arrivals a year ago, data from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) shows.

Considering the industry’s potential to grow in post war Sri Lanka, the tourism authority estimates that income from this sector could reach around US$ 600 million this year, from an estimated number of 575,000 total arrivals.

Earnings from tourism grew 20 percent year-on-year in 2009 to US$ 450 million, SLTDA Director General S. Kalaiselvam said.

These are positive signs that the tourism industry is growing, he said.

In January this year, there was a 77.8 percent increase of arrivals from Western Europe year-on-year but the numbers are still low at only 361 arrivals.

Arrivals from the Middle East increased from 1,147 to 1,722, a growth rate of 50.1 percent. The number of tourists from Eastern Europe grew by 37.5 percent while arrivals from South Asia increased by 25.4 percent.

"Opening the Northern and Eastern provinces to tourists has created some impact and this has brought positive hope to the industry," Kalaiselvam said.

He said the majority of the tourists visiting the Northern and Eastern provinces are local people with over 500 citizens visiting Jaffna daily from various parts of the island.

The government is also initiating various projects to lay the infrastructure for tourism development.

More than 5,000 acres of land in 13 islands will be developed under the planned Kalpitiya tourist zone. The second project will be in Pasikudah where a 13-hotel project, with a 1,000 room capacity, is being designed as beach resort.

The third project will be in Kuchchaveli on 500 acres, creating an additional room capacity of 3,000.

Kalaiselvam said through the increased developments in these medium to long-term investments of hotels, resorts, inns, islands and restaurants, the economy would be able to expand, thereby increasing foreign exchange earnings and generating job opportunities in rural areas.

"As a result, the per capita income of the people will also increase substantially," he said.

A recent report published by the SLTDA showed the added benefits these projects would have.

The projects will not only develop the tourism sector, but will also stimulate economic activities, developing livelihood of the citizens and boosting prospects for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) that can provide support services to the tourism cluster.

The projects would also create the necessary environment for youth to receive skills training so that they can be employed in the tourism sector.

source -

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