Sri Lanka launches new India campaign, as Nov. tourist arrivals dip

Sri Lanka is launching a fresh publicity blitz to entice Indians to spend their summer vacation, as the tropical island struggles to fill up hotel rooms that remain largely empty following the tsunami and an outbreak of fresh violence in the northeast, officials said. The tropical island has seen arrivals plummet 25.4 percent to 48,457 in November, pushing cumulative figures for the 11-months down 0.4 percent to 498,137, the Tourist Board said Monday.

Indians, who pop into shop and savour the city lights, have overtaken Sri Lanka’s traditional Europe-heavy tourism market, to emerge as the single largest source of tourists last year, the Tourist Board said.

For the 10-months to October, 92,163 Indian visitors helped the segment grow 12.4 percent year-on-year, over a 19.4 percent drop from Germany and a 7.2 percent drop from UK — two of Sri Lanka’s key tourism markets.

On average, Indians stay under five days in the city hotels, mainly for business, shopping and patronise restaurants, splurging about US$ 100 a day, higher than the average tourist who spends about US$ 84 each day.

“We want to expand our product on offer, like beaches for North Indians, the hillsides of Nuwara Eliya for South Indians, nature trails and so forth,” Tourist Board Chief