Sri Lanka tourist arrivals up 15.7-pct in January

Feb 13, 2012 (LBO) – Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka increased 15.7 percent to 85,874 in January 2012 from a year earlier, maintaining growth but at a slower pace than last year, official data showed. East Asian arrivals rose 28 percent to 9,334 with Chinese tourists rising 21.5 percent to 1,952. Visitors from Japan rose 30 percent to 1,866 and Singaporean arrivals rose 41 percent to 1,453.

South Asian arrivals grew only 7.3 percent with Sri Lanka key generating market India, growth only 6.0 percent to 14.615. Indian currency has weakened over the last few months and visa free status for Indian also ended from December.

Sri Lanka now has an electronic travel authorization process, which however is likely to make it easier for visitors from many countries where visas were previously issued manually to enter the country.

In January last year arrivals grew a steep 64 percent and year with annual growth clocking at 30 percent as the end of a 30-year war generated a tourism boom.

Western Europe continued to dominate with arrivals growing 11.9 percent to 36,497 though UK arrivals fell 14.2 percent to 8,162.

UK tourism has been hit by economic troubles and a British tourist was also