SRI Lanka registered 452,867 inbound arrivals in the first half of 2012, an 18.7 per cent year-on-year increase, according to the latest figures from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.
A large proportion of inbound traffic originated from South Asian markets (116,717 visitors), which jointly recorded a 4.6 per cent year-on-year increase in numbers. India was the top market in the region, contributing 85,426 visitors.
Compared to the same period last year, visitor numbers from South-east Asia and the Far East rose by 36.7 per cent, while arrivals from the US and Europe grew by 20.2 per cent and 20.3 per cent, respectively.
“Sri Lanka is emerging as a leading leisure destination and this upward trend and interest will continue to grow exponentially,” said Chandra Wickramasinghe, deputy chairman of Amaya Resorts & Spas, which operates several resort properties throughout Sri Lanka.
Sonal Swamy, director, Syrisa Travels Mumbai, said: “Once the perception that Sri Lanka was safe to travel to permeated throughout the travel industry, we promoted it vigorously to our clients.”
“For Indians and East Asians, Sri Lanka is a dream destination that is shorthaul and not as expensive as the Maldives, Mauritius or Seychelles. The simple visa process also helps the travel trade create last-minute itineraries.”
This year, the Sri Lankan government is targeting one million arrivals and US$2 billion in tourism revenue.