Sri Lanka tourist arrivals down 10.5 pct in March

Apr 21, 2009 (LBO) – Tourist arrivals to Sri Lankan fell 10.5 percent to 34,065 for the month of March 2009, with key Western European and South Asian markets weakening, the tourism promotion office said. The number of tourists from the all-important western European market, the lifeblood of beach resorts, fell by 5.2 percent to 14,665 in March from the same month a year ago, Sri Lanka Tourism said.

Tourist arrivals from Germany, dropped 23.5 percent to 2,700, Dutch arrivals fell 25.5 percent to 972, while Italian arrivals slid 31.3 percent to 480.

Visitors from the UK, which accounted for the largest number of tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka in March, fell by 6.3 percent to 6,579 over the same period.

But French arrivals increased 78.4 percent 1,761.

The island’s tourism industry has been in the doldrums for years because of the ethnic war which however appears to be ending with the Tamil Tiger rebels on the verge of defeat.

For the first quarter of 2009, total arrivals fell 21.3 percent to 106,702 visitors compared with the same 2008 period.

Arrivals from Western Europe were down 16.7 percent to 45,876 tourists in the quarter while visitors from Eastern Europe fell 5.5 perc