Friday, October 7, 2011

September tourist arrivals up 27%

COLOMBO (Reuters): Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals rose 27.2 percent in September from a year earlier, continuing to rise every month on a year-on-year basis since a 25-year civil war ended in May 2009.

The government is targeting annual revenue of $2.75 billion by 2016 from 2.5 million expected visitors attracted by Sri Lanka’s beaches, hills, religious and historic sites, while aiming for $3 billion in foreign direct investment.

Visitors in September totalled 60,219. Tourist arrivals in the first nine months of 2011 jumped 34.3 percent from the same period last year to 598,006.

Sri Lanka has forecast 20 percent growth in visitor arrivals this year to more than 780,000 people. That would beat last year’s record high number although growth would slow from 46 percent last year. The island’s tourism industry drew $1.2 billion for investment in the first half of 2011.

The government in July said it expected at least $1.5 billion in foreign investment into a proposed “tourist city” replete with hotels, shopping and a convention centre in Katana, a coastal town located 15 km north of the commercial capital, Colombo.

Tourism revenue, which jumped 64.8 percent in 2010 to a record $575.9 million, rose 49 percent in the first eight months of this year from a year earlier to $521.7 million, Central Bank data shows.   

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