Tourist prefer to shop than soak up the sun ‘n surf

Tsunami hit Sri Lanka has seen a shift in its tourism mix, with more visitors popping in to shop and see the city lights than soak up the sun or hit the cultural beat, officials said Friday. Tsunami hit Sri Lanka has seen a shift in its tourism mix, with more visitors popping in to shop and see the city lights than soak up the sun or hit the cultural beat, officials said Friday. The country’s tourism discount promotion campaign following the tsunami, saw visitors from neighbouring India flock in large numbers, but the influx has failed to filter to the traditional tourism trails, laments Prathap Ramunujam, Secretary to the Tourist Board.

“Tourist arrivals are up about eleven percent for the first eight months, but its benefits are largely centred around the Colombo city. Hotels in the city are showing high occupancies of around 80 percent,” he said addressing a news conference to announce the island’s plans to celebrate world tourism day on Sept. 27 in Sigiriya.

Sri Lanka welcomed 51,216 visitors in August (up 5.2 percent), which has helped push the yearly cumulative tally up to 362,049.

Out of the 203 hotels in operation, overall occupancy fell to 44.4 percent as against 51.2 p