Sri Lanka tourism awaits peace dividend

[TamilNet, Monday, 17 June 2002, 09:18 GMT]
Tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka have not shown any significant increase despite the signing of the ceasefire agreement between the government and the Liberation Tigers, Tourism Minister Gamini Lokuge told The Sunday Leader.

According to the minister, despite the progress in the Norwegian peace initiative, tourist arrivals have not improved especially, the paper said.

The minister said 429,000 tourists came in 2000, while last year numbers dropped to 370,000. He said after the LTTE attack on Katunayake International airport and the September terrorist attacks in the US, the number of tourists entering Sri Lanka has dropped significantly, averaging about 30,000 a month.

"But we have plans to revive the entire industry," the minister said.

The government is now planning to tap South Asian countries to attract tourists and he also said Sri Lanka would attract foreigners from other countries in the region like China, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Tourist Board Marketing Director, Chamalee Maalage, told the Sunday Leader that though the traditional markets such as UK, Germany, Russia and other western countries have shown a decrease in numbers, there has been an increase in the arrival of Indian tourists by 60 percent, Malaysians 120 percent Chinese and Hong Kong 34 percent, Japanese 4.1 percent, and Far Eastern tourists 100 percent.

However she said the tension between India and Pakistan may deter tourist arrivals because of the close proximity of the two countries.


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