Sri Lanka sees foreign visitors surge 55-pct in December

Jan 10, 2008 (LBO) – Foreign visitors to Sri Lanka surged 55 percent in the peak winter season month of December 2007, the island’s tourism promotion office said, though the island saw 11 percent less tourists in the full year. Visitors from key Western European markets jumped 56.6 percent to 23,500 in December with the Netherlands growing by 73 percent and UK 87 percent to 11,700, despite an internal conflict that spooked some travelers.

The full year generated 94,000 visitors from UK, up 6.5 percent. Germany sent 35,000 visitors during the year, down 26 percent.

Western Europe accounted for 194,000 of the 494,000 foreign vistors.

Visitors from India increased 35 percent to 11,600 in December though the full year saw 17.4 percent less Indians coming ashore at 106,000.

South Asia brought in a total of 149,000 visitors (down 11.4 percent) with Maldives chipping in with 29,500 visitors.

The atoll nation with only 300,000 people, is a high-end tourist paradise. It is South Asia’s richest nation reporting low inflation and high economic growth.

“January looked promising with the visiting Bohra Spiritual Leader and accompanying devotees filling up city hotel rooms at premium prices,” the Sri Lanka Tou