Sri Lanka in bid to boost Middle Eastern visitors

May 12, 2013 (LBO) – Sri Lanka has promoted wildlife and natural assets in the Arabian Travel Mart in Dubai this month as part of a drive to grow Middle Eastern visitors 60 percent to 90,000 in 2013, the state tourism office said. It is also best part of the year for beach tourism in the East Coast, where new hotels are coming up after the end of a 30-year war.

Sri Lanka’s tourism office said arrivals from the Middle East rose 53 percent to 57,501 in 2011 becoming the fastest growing market.

In 2012 the market fell 0.3 percent on a revised base to 56,169 the only geographical region market to shrink in absolute terms.

Some analysts say action by nationalists against the island’s Muslim minority, including food labelling, their dress, calls to boycott businesses, burning shops and attacks on mosques may have hurt the island’s image as a friendly place for all human beings.

In addition promotions, an improvement of rule of law could also help boost tourism.

In the first quarter of 2012, arrivals from the Middle East grew 3.4 percent to 33,636, just behind South Asia, which grew 3.6 percent with Indian arrivals falling 4.4 percent.

Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and 56 industry members had exhibite