Colombo, April 29 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s post-war tourism arrivals continue to boom with numbers growing by 11.6 percent in February when compared with the same month in 2012, official data showed Monday.
Data released from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) showed that 93,232 tourists arrived in the country, compared to 83,549 in February 2012, which is an 11.6 percent increase, reports Xinhua.
Tourist arrivals recorded a 12.5 percent increase in the first two months of this year with 190,643 tourists arriving in the island.
Chinese tourists recorded an impressive 89.1 percent increase in February 2013 compared with the same period last year, climbing from 1,940 to 3,669 as the largest number of arrivals from East Asia.
The Sri Lankan government has made China its main focus for tourism growth with cabinet approval being given in March to sponsor 100 Chinese travel agents to the island.
Overall arrivals from North America rose 4.8 percent to 9,789 this year. Arrivals from the US rose 17.8 percent during the first two months of 2013 while arrivals from Canada declined 8.2 percent.
Tourist arrivals from Western Europe reached 85,119 during the first two months, a 13.7 percent increase from 74,861 in the same month last year. This is still the largest source of tourists to Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lankan government hopes to attract 2.5 million tourists by 2016.
Last year revenues from tourism skipped $1 billion mark for the first time in history.
Multinational hotel companies including Hyatt, Shangri-la and Sheraton have also inked agreements to open resorts in Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lankan government also hopes to create employment for 500,000 people within the industry.