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Sri Lanka lures Indian tourists with Ramayana trail

Oct 14, 2009 (LBO) - A Sri Lankan tourism package called the 'Ramayana trail' that covers sites mentioned in a 2,000-year-old epic poem popular in south Asia is drawing droves of Indian visitors to the island, officials said. The number of tourists visiting the island has increased sharply since the end of its 30-year ethnic war in May when government forces defeated the Tamil Tiger separatists.

The war had been the main deterrent to tourists.

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority has said the island hopes to attract 2.5 million tourists by 2016 and has launched several projects to increase the number of rooms to cater to the anticipated numbers.

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Tourist arrivals into Sri Lanka in September 2009 rose 28.
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6 percent to 37,983 from a year ago, with strong growth from key European, East Asian and south Asian markets, the Tourism Authority said.

It was the fourth straight monthly rise in visitors since May, with a big increase in arrivals from India, a tourism market that has been growing in importance in recent years.

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"From the day we launched the product two years ago, large groups have been coming," said S Kalaiselvam, director general the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.

The tour, of

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