Sept 23, 2008 (LBO) – Tourist arrivals in to Sri Lanka in August fell sharply from a year ago but bookings for the winter season look promising for hoteliers, tourism chief Renton de Alwis said. Sri Lankan hoteliers have said the industry has been affected by bad publicity in tourism generating markets caused by fighting between government forces and the Tamil Tigers.
The violence has affected traditional markets in Western countries prompting the industry to seek new markets in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Asia.
August arrivals fell 31 percent to 30,672 from August 2007.
But de Alwis said that the fall was sharp as the number of visitors last year had increased because of an international conference and the Indian Cricket Tour.
De Alwis said charter flights that were canceled last year were resuming and that hotels were reporting strong bookings for this winter season.
“In my last discussions with hoteliers they said bookings are good. We’re going to have a good winter,” he said.
“The lucrative events we had in 2007 August have made this Augus