Major influx of Middle East tourists to Sri Lanka reported


Destination Sri Lanka reported a major influx of Arab travelers as Middle East tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka surged 50 per cent in January, 2010 compared to the same period last year, according to statistics compiled by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority and announced by the Middle East office of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Board (SLTPB).

“Judging by these early results, destination Sri Lanka is on track to surpass figures attained last year where tourist arrivals saw a double-digit growth,” said Heba Al Ghais Al Mansoori, Middle East Director of SLTPB based in Dubai.

Announcing the results, Ms. Al Mansoori confirmed that the strongest growth was registered from the UAE (up by 164%), Saudi Arabia (up by 127%), Qatar (171%), Kuwait (up by 135%) and Jordan among others.

Apart from the Middle East, regions that saw a marked increase in visitors are Western and Eastern Europe, and South Asia.

“With the widespread effects of the credit crunch and the stability that finally dawned on Sri Lanka as the war came to a halt and decades of strife ended, Sri Lanka is a destination with good value for money and one with an exotic locale that tantalizes tourists,” said Ms. Al Mansoori. “Peace will finally bring prosperity and development into the country and open up more areas for tourism development which otherwise was not accessible during the war.”

Cultural attractions, entertainment, shopping, and dining are some of the factors that draw modern day Arab travelers to their preferred destinations and Sri Lanka offers a good product that scores on all counts and is less than four hours flying time away from the Gulf.

Factors such as the government’s support for the tourism sector, and expansion of low-cost carrier services are also contributing to the growth of the tourism industry.