In 2012 alone nearly one million tourists arrived in the country. Sri Lanka expects to increase this number to two million by 2016 making the island one of the most popular tourist destinations since the end of nearly three decades of anti-terrorist war.
Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa predicted an increase in the demand for Sri Lanka's tourist hotels by giving them star class certification to provide both foreign and local tourists with a quality service.
He said this at a ceremony held in Colombo in connection with the issuance of the certificates to tourist hotels by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority. At the event a five star certificate was issued to the Jetwing Blue Hotel, Negombo, four star certificates to Jaya Wild Yala, Jaya Trans Hikkaduwa and Jetwing Sea Negombo and a three star certificate to Sanmira Renaissance, Unawatuna.
There is a great demand worldwide for environment-friendly hotels and such facilities in Sri Lanka would attract an increasing number of tourists to this country, according to minister Rajapaksa.
The annual foreign exchange earnings through the five-year tourism development plan under Minister Rajapaksa's guidance will be nearly three billion dollars by 2016.
It would create 500,000 job opportunities associated with the industry, which will result in the construction of 50,000 hotel rooms.
Already a number of tourism-related programmes have been launched covering the island's beaches, wild life, heritage, ayurveda, sports, natural beauty, marriage ceremonies and other local traditions and also eight specially identified areas. Tourism promotion activities expanding under Minister Rajapaksa's guidance is benefiting all sections of the society and also raising the income levels of all those associated with the industry which is witnessing an unprecedented progress.