Colombo: The arrival of Indians to Sri Lanka
increased by 50 per cent, contributing to an over 27 per cent
surge in tourism in September year on year, amid the launch of
a plan by the government to boost the sector still reeling
from the impact of a three-decade ethnic conflict.
In the first nine months of the year, the cumulative
arrivals had increased by over 34 per cent. Maldivian tourists
(with 46.8 per cent) was the next highest after Indian
nationals visiting Sri Lanka, tourism authority said here
Last month, Sri Lanka launched its five-year tourism
growth plan to achieve 2.5 million arrivals by 2016, up from
the average 600,000 currently.
Tourism is of high economic importance to Sri Lanka
following the end of the bloody ethnic conflict in May 2009
which killed nearly 100,000 people. The sector is a major
foreign exchange earner for the country.
The arrivals from the UK had fallen by 11 per cent in
September while there has been increases in visitors from
France by 46 per cent and Germany by 10 per cent. There was 20
per cent increase in arrival of Dutch and Russian visitors
surged by 43 per cent.
The tourism industry has been irked by the decision of
the government to scrap the `on arrival` visa system
applicable to 78 countries, including India, from next year in
bid to streamline the issuance of the travel document.
The government has been complaining of foreign nationals
abusing the on arrival visa policy.
From January 2012 the visitors to Sri Lanka other than
from Maldives and Singapore need to apply online for an
electronic entry permit.
The authorities believe the system would not deter
tourists as it will be quick and hassle free.