April tourist arrivals up nine percent

Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals rose 9.0 percent to 65,591 in April this year, which helped raise the number of holidaymakers for the first four months of 2012 to 330,116, official data showed.

The Indian Ocean Island greeted 63,835 visitors in April 2011, while the cumulative arrivals from January to April 2011 were 278,975, Sri Lanka Tourism said.

Neighboring India, continued to dominate tourism arrivals. Visitors from traditional markets of Western Europe rose 19.4 percent to 139,692 in April 2012, of which the UK slipped 0.2 percent to 36,959. The German market grew 24.7 percent to 26,097.

The Eastern European market expanded 42.9 percent to 26,980 visitors in April this year, helped by 58.7 percent (10,698) growth in Russians and a 96.9 percent (6,744) rise in Ukrainians.

The Middle East market, which Sri Lanka is aggressively promoting itself, saw a 12.5 percent growth to 14,921 in April this year, over the same month a year earlier.

East Asian visitors were up 37.0 percent to 38,229 in April 2012, led by a 35.4 percent (7,652) rise from Japan, 11.2 percent (6,831) growth from China, 28.4 percent (6,136) rise from Malaysia and 250.5 percent (1,381) increase from the Philippines.

The South Asian market grew marginally by 5.2 percent to 75,895, led by a 6.9 percent (55,780) rise from India, while Maldives fell 0.5 percent to 12,698.

Sri Lanka hopes to greet over a million tourists in 2012, up from a record 855,975 welcomed in 2011.

The island has set its sights on a five-fold increase of 2.5 million visitors by 2015 after government forces crushed the Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009, ending decades of ethnic conflict.

The tropical island earned 174.5 million dollars in tourism receipts from January to February this year and hopes to earn over a billion dollars in 2012. In 2011, the country earned 830.3 million dollars from tourism.

Tourism remains a key foreign exchange earner for Sri Lanka’s 59 billion dollar economy along with exports of garments, tea and remittances from expatriate workers. (LBO)