Sri Lanka tourism industry hit hard in February

March 25, 2007 (AFP) - Sri Lanka's tourism industry suffered a sharp drop last month as fighting between troops and Tiger rebels escalated and foreign holiday makers stayed away, the Tourist Board said Sunday.
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Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka fell 18.3 percent to 52,687 in February from the same month a year earlier, official figures showed Sunday, with the key markets of India and Germany posting the steepest falls.
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The drop came after Sri Lanka had already lowered its forecast for tourism arrivals by 20 percent to 543,877 for this year.

Visitors from neighbouring India fell 29.

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9 percent to 7,350, despite hotels and the national airline SriLankan rolling out discount packages aimed at its northern neighbour.
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Travellers from European destinations also stayed away as countries such as Britain,

France and Germany issued negative travel advisories about Sri Lanka to their citizens, citing an escalation of a decades-old ethnic conflict in the island nation. Arrivals from Germany fell 22.1 percent to 4,068.

Fighting between troops and Tamil Tiger rebels has led to a sharp decline in bookings during the winter season, which is the peak time for the local leisure industry, the figures showe

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