Sri Lanka July tourism arrivals up 28-pct

Aug 14, 2009 (LBO) – Foreign visitors to Sri Lanka increased 28 percent in July from a year earlier, with Western Europe and South Asia generating markets showing steep increases, the island’s tourism promotion office said. A 30-year internal conflict ended in May with the leadership of Tamil Tiger separatists being wiped out by the military.

Tourists from Western Europe, the mainstay of the country’s beach resorts, increased 15.5 percent to 16,690 visitors in July with German arrivals rising 75 percent to 2,662. Britain which relaxed a travel advisory to the island sent 7,790 visitors, down 3.3 percent.

Arrivals from the Netherlands, another important market, were up 3.3 percent to 1,370.

“I am sure this winter will be excellent,” says Shiromal Cooray, managing director of Jetwing Travels on an August 7 interview. “Arrivals have increased. Our foreign partners are saying the bookings are better.”

South Asian visitors increased 39.0 percent to 11,080, with Indian arrivals rising 45.2 percent to 6,732. Visitors from Maldives rose 43.4 percent to 3,074. In the seven months to July total visitors were still down 10 percent from a year earlier at 229,952.