Aiming for 3 million tourists

Gone are the days when the word ‘tourist’ brought to mind people from European and other such Western countries, for the greatest draw to Sri Lanka now are Indians and Chinese.

The year on year number of tourist arrivals for the month of June, according to available statistics show a 19 percent increase this year.  And a larger percentage of those were from India and China. Indeed, tourists from the Asia and the Pacific amounted to 58 percent of the total who visited the country, with India taking the lead followed by China.

That does not mean others have avoided Sri Lanka. We have had visitors from the Middle Eastern countries with almost a 100% increase from June of last year, while tourists from the United Kingdom and Germany were amongst the highest from the European countries.

The Sri Lankan government hopes that this year tourist arrivals would be around 3 million.  In the first six months, there have been 2.1 million visitors to the country.

Despite the smallness of the country, geographically speaking, Sri Lanka is blessed with a varied vegetation, golden beaches and wild life. It is a popular destination for surfers too.

Ayurveda, the country’s native form of medical treatment and eco-tourism, have in recent years attracted many tourists to the country.

The Galle Fort, seen in some of these photographs was built in 1588 by the Portuguese, and fortified later by the Dutch who ruled Sri Lanka as well as the British after them. The Fort gives the air of a laid out walled city, where Dutch styled houses can still be seen.  Within the Fort are commercial buildings, shop houses and places of worship dating back more than a hundred years.