Sri Lanka tourist arrivals up 18-pct in September

Oct 24, 2012 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals rose 18.1 percent to 71,111 in September 2012 from a year earlier, with arrivals during the nine months up 16 percent to 693,772 data from the Indian Ocean island’s tourist promotion office showed. Arrivals from the Middle East fell 13 percent to 4,166.

East Asian visitors rose 21.4 percent to 10,729 with Chinese arrivals surging 66.5 percent to 2,675 and Malaysia rising 44.4 percent to 1,596. Singapore fell 14.6 percent to 1,082. Taiwan generated 1,542 visitors up 93.5 percent.

Indian arrivals grew only 4.2 percent to 13,888. Up to September total arrivals rose a bare 1.3 percent to 122,120.

India became Sri Lanka’s top market with high growth after Sri Lanka was declared visa free for Indian nationals. Visas were re-imposed to India and several other countries this year amid rising nationalism in the country.

The electronic authorization process however is not that onerous. India’s currency has also depreciated making it more expensive for its citizens to travel outside.

Arrivals from the tiny atoll nation of Maldives rose 5.8 percent to 3,701. Up to September the market grew 10.1 percent to 30,938.

Sri Lanka welcomed 855,975 tourists in 2011 and has a target of