Sri Lanka was named the best travel destination for 2013 by leading travel magazine ‘Lonely Planet’ last year, however the phenomenal growth experienced in 2010 and 2011 slowed down last year to 17.5 percent and has further slowed down in the month of January to 13.4 percent, increasing concerns on the achievability of the governments ambitious goal to attract 2.5 million arrivals by 2016.
Arrivals for the first month of this year from North America increased 4.8 percent to 5,428 from 5,177, while arrivals from Latin America and the Caribbean declined 39.9 percent to 187 from 311 for the same month last year.
Tourist arrivals from Western Europe increased 13.7 percent 41,484 from 36,497 with travellers from UK leading, while arrivals from Eastern Europe increased 18.2 percent to 8,083 from 6,838 with Russian travellers leading.
Arrivals from Africa increased 4.3 percent to 360 from 345 with travellers from South Africa leading while arrivals from other parts of the African region declined. Tourists from West Asia increased 3.2 percent to 4,077 from 3,950.
Tourist arrivals from East Asia increased 7.6 percent to 10,039 from 9,334 with travellers from China leading, while arrivals from South Asia led by travellers from India increased 15.5 percent to 22,191 from 19,209.
Arrivals from Australasia increased 32 percent to 5,562 from 4,213 with travellers from Australia leading.
The room capacity of registered tourist hotels in the country increased to 15, 510 last year from 14,653 the previous year.
The government expects to attract more than 1.2 million tourists this year and achieve 2.5 million arrivals by 2016 generating more than US$ 2.75 billion.
Last year, tourism brought in a little more than a billion US dollars, up 25.7 percent from US$ 830.3 million in 2011.
The Sri Lankan Tourism Promotion Bureau has organized several road shows in 25 cities around the world to promote tourism to Sri Lanka.