Sri Lanka tourist arrivals up 9.7-pct in August

Sept 11, 2012 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals rose 9.7 percent in August 2012 to 79,456 from a year earlier with Western Europe and East Asian growing but the top market India falling in absolute terms, official data showed. In the eight months to August Indian arrivals were up only 1.0 percent to 108,232. During the first eight months of 2011 Indian visitors were up 45 percent to 107,201. In August 2011 alone Indian visitors rose 38.9 to 12,857.

India became Sri Lanka’s top tourism generating market after visa restrictions were lifted by Sri Lanka about a decade ago, restoring freedoms that existed before Western practices aimed at reducing human freedoms were imported to the region.

Sri Lanka re-introduced visas for Indian visitors at the beginning of this year, as visa on arrival facility for many countries were ended amid rising nationalism in the island despite the end of a 30-year war.

The electronic travel authorization process has eased the entry for citizens of some countries by eliminating paper work and cutting processing time.

India’s rupee has also weakened, making overseas travel more expensive, though Sri Lanka’s rupee has also fallen about 16 percent over the past several months.

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