Jan 26, 2009 (LBO) – Tourist arrivals into Sri Lanka last year fell sharply from its main markets of India and Britain whose currencies also depreciated significantly against the dollar. Tourist industry analysts said that the downturn in tourism could worsen this year because of the weaker currencies and economic slowdown in key visitor generating markets.
Total tourist arrivals in to Sri Lanka in 2008 were down 19.9 percent to 438,475 from a year ago, according to tourist board statistics.
India was the biggest tourist generating market for the year, drawing 85,238 visitors although a sharp 19.6 percent drop from 2007.
However, the visitor numbers include Indians coming to the island for trading purposes.
Arrivals from the second biggest market, the UK which is now in recession, fell 13.5 percent to 81,331 in 2008 from a year ago.
The downturn in arrivals was particularly marked in December 2008, the peak of the tourist season.
Total tourist arrivals in December plunged 20 percent to 48,925 from the same month a year go.
However, brokers Lanka Securities said the December 2008 downturn was exaggerated because of the higher number of arrivals from t