Sri Lanka August tourist arrivals up 30 pct year/year
Sri Lanka tourism still booming with arrivals up 32 pct in July
COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's tourist arrivals jumped 29.6 percent in August from a year earlier with the visitors expect to hit a record high, as the island nation kept attracting more visitors and tourism-related investment since the end of a 25-year civil war.
Arrivals have risen every month on a year-on-year basis since the war's end in May 2009, and the government is targeting annual revenue of $2.5 billion by 2016 from 2.5 million expected visitors coming to see Sri Lanka's beaches, hills and religious and historic sites.
Visitors in August were 72,463, against 55,898 in the same month last year. Arrivals in the first eight months of 2011 have jumped 35.2 percent to 537,787, compared to the same period a year ago.
Sri Lanka has forecast a 20 percent growth in arrivals this year to more than 780,000 people, and President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government has facilitated $1.2 billion in tourism investment so far in 2011.
The 654,476 arrivals in 2010 exceeded the previous all-time high 566,202 from 2004, when a peace accord was in place. Last's year's tally was 46.1 percent higher than the year before.
The government in July said it is expecting 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 rose 50 percent in the first seven months of this year to $451.4 million compared to the corresponding period last year after jumping 64.8 percent year-on-year to a record $575.9 million in 2010, the central bank's latest data showed.
Sri Lanka aims to attract $2.7 billion in investment to upgrade its post-war tourism capacity.
The hotel and travel index .CSEHT on the Colombo Stock Exchange has risen nearly fourfold since the end of the war.
Tourism is one of the main foreign exchange earners for Sri Lanka's $50 billion economy along with remittances from expatriate workers, garments and tea.