Sri Lanka welcomes one millionth tourist

Colombo – Sri Lanka has welcomed its one millionth tourist months ahead of its target helped largely by increased arrivals to the Indian Ocean island.

Sri Lanka Tourism welcomed British couple Joshua Gladstein and Sophie Nathan who arrived in the island from London as the one millionth tourist, the statement said.

Sri Lanka has set a target of 1.5 million tourist arrivals for 2014.

China remains the fastest growing market to the south Asian island, easily outstripping Indonesia at 76.9 percent and Russia, which grew at 74.8 percent when compared with arrival numbers for the first six months of 2013.

Since the end of a three decade war in 2009 Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals have boomed, reaching over 1.2 million last year and attracting earnings of 1.7 billion U.S. dollars, according to the Central Bank.

The tropical island is aiming to attract 2.5 million arrivals by 2016, buoyed by fast increasing numbers from China.

Only 27,627 Chinese tourists arrived in Sri Lanka in 2012, according to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) but the numbers nearly doubled to 54,288 last year.

Tourist arrivals from China to Sri Lanka during the first seven months of 2014 jumped 144.2 percent when compared to the same period last year.

Most of the tourist arrivals were from Western Europe with 223, 810 tourists visiting in the first six months of this year recording a 17 percent increase over corresponding 2013 figures, the SLTDA report said. 

Sri Lanka also earned 1.4 billion U.S. dollars from tourism last year and aims to top that by December. Source: Xinhua