March 25, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s tourism industry suffered a sharp drop last month as fighting between troops and Tiger rebels escalated and foreign holiday makers stayed away, the Tourist Board said Sunday. Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka fell 18.3 percent to 52,687 in February from the same month a year earlier, official figures showed Sunday, with the key markets of India and Germany posting the steepest falls.
The drop came after Sri Lanka had already lowered its forecast for tourism arrivals by 20 percent to 543,877 for this year.
Visitors from neighbouring India fell 29.9 percent to 7,350, despite hotels and the national airline SriLankan rolling out discount packages aimed at its northern neighbour.
Travellers from European destinations also stayed away as countries such as Britain,
France and Germany issued negative travel advisories about Sri Lanka to their citizens, citing an escalation of a decades-old ethnic conflict in the island nation.
Arrivals from Germany fell 22.1 percent to 4,068.
Fighting between troops and Tamil Tiger rebels has led to a sharp decline in bookings during the winter season, which is the peak time for the local leisure industry, the figures showe