Sri Lanka’s Bandaranaike International Airport now joins 27 other similar airport lounges in key cities, that work round-the-clock to pamper passengers from travel weariness or embarking on long haul flights.
The Indian Ocean Island is experiencing a surge in tourists since government forces ended a decades long conflict with ethnic Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009. The United Nations estimated some 100,000 people perished during the 37-year conflict.
Sri Lanka Tourism this week noted a 18.2 percent growth of 387,622 visitors for the five months to May, over the same period in 2011. Neighbouring India, continued to dominate tourism arrivals, followed by traditional markets of the UK and Germany.
In 2011, the Indian Ocean Island welcomed a record 855,975 visitors and earned 830.3 million dollars from the trade, according to Central Bank of Sri Lanka figures.
The tourism authority hopes to attract about a million visitors this year, and tips earnings to hit about one billion dollars.International hotel chains like the Sheraton and Shangri-La have signed up to build hotels in key locations, while the government takes the initiative to develop tourism-related infrastructure.
Clark said upgrading Sri Lanka’s tourism product helps to attract more affluent segments.
"The MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) traffic is also increasing and the country is attracting the attention of investors from many parts of the world," he said.
Emirates began services to Sri Lanka in April 1986, with Colombo becoming the fourth destination for the network. In 1988, the airline acquired a stake and took management control of state-run SriLankan Airlines for 10-years.
The airline now flies to 123 destinations, linking Sri Lanka to 72 countries on six continents. Emirates currently operates28 flights a week from Colombo, 14 direct to Dubai, seven via Male to Dubai and daily flights to Singapore.
It offers first, business and economy class services to and from Colombo.