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Tourism is booming in Sri Lanka

Elephants in Sri Lanka
Image courtesy: Melina Perera

Sri Lanka is at its peaceful best after the war and that shows in the tourist figure. In the first half of this year, a total of 452,867 people including 85,000 from India, visited the island nation, government data shows.

This is an all-time high and an 18.7 per cent growth over the same period last year, Xinhua reported. The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority said the highest number of tourists – 172,602 — in the first six months arrived from western Europe. Britain clocked the highest number of tourists at 47,975, followed by Germany with 32,081.

The significant number of Indian travellers is the direct result of the ‘visa on arrival’ scheme run by the Sri Lankan government. With more and more areas opening up, the number of tourists from India is also expected to go up substantially.

The Sri Lankan government has set an ambitious target of one million arrivals for 2012, and expects it to rise to 2.5 million by 2016. Around $2 billion in earnings are also expected from the tourism industry this year.