Tourism industry records US$3.5 b revenue in 2016

Sri Lanka Tourism is targeting 2.5 million tourists arrivals by the end of this year, Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs, Minister John Amaratunga told the media at a ceremony to mark the recording of over two million tourists arrivals to the country last year.

Sri Lanka Tourism recorded the arrival of two-million-fifty-eight-thousand visitors to the country last year, a 14 percent growth compared to the previous year. However, the revised target was 2.2 million visitors by end of 2016. The original target set for 2016 was to attract 2.5 million visitors.

The tourism industry recorded a revenue of USD 3.5 billion last year up from USD 2.8 billion in the previous year.

When asked why the industry fell short of achieving the revised target, the Minister said the 2.2 million was the industry’s ambition rather than a target.

“We must have ambition and aim high though we may not reach it,” the Minister said.

However , Sri Lanka Tourism officials were optimistic the industry could record a higher number of visitors this year despite a challenging year.

The renovation work at the airport will have a downside effect on tourist arrivals this year since the airport will be closed during a best time for tourism in the country, Amaratunga said.

The BIA will be closed for maintenance from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. daily from January 6 to April 6.

However, the minister said there will be a series of events lined up for the year with International Travel Fair which will be held from May 5 to 8th in Colombo and the events to be held in the East coast such as the surfing competitions which will attract a large number of visitors to the country.

Sri Lanka Tourism officials said the promotion of the destination in new markets. Developing digital marketing allocation of funds for hotel development, expansion of tourist police units, improving jetties and water ways are some of the measures to boost tourism this year.

The Ministry has received Rs. 680 million to improve infrastructure in provinces. Around 700 students in hotel schools will be trained this year, a Tourism Ministry official said.

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