Sri Lanka inland attractions draw more tourists: minister

Dec 11, 2011 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s main historical, and wildlife attractions had begun to draw more visitors, weaning the island away from being mainly a beach tourist destination, deputy economic development minister Lakshman Abeywardene said.

The ancient city of Polonnaruwa had drawn 103,335 visitors of 15.7 percent of the total and Anuradhapura 75,917 or 11.6 percent of the total.

The Pinnawala elephant orphanage had earned 389 million rupees, the Temple of the Tooth 293 million rupees, Sigiriya 237 million, botanical gardens 123 million.

Polonnaruwa had earned 83.7 million rupees and Anuradhapura 14.8 million rupees.

Only 17,197 tourists or 2.63 percent had visited the Dehiwala Zoo, and 22,061 or 3.37 percent had visited national museums. The zoo had earned 20.6 million rupees and museums 9.8 million rupees. “Large numbers of tourists are visiting the Pinnawela elephant orphanage, Sigiriya (a rock fortress) and the Temple of the Tooth,” he said.

“This is showing that Sri Lanka is no longer just a beach destination.”

Sri Lanka has seen a steep increase in tourist arrivals following the end of a 30-year war in 2009. Up to November arrivals were up 33.1 percent to 758,458 exceeding an original 750,000 target for