By Mario Andree
Tourist arrivals during the first five months of this year has increased by 13.2 percent to 438,653 from 387,622 recorded in the corresponding period in the previous year, while arrivals in the month of May increased 21.8 percent to 70,026 from 57,506 in the same month last year, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority data showed.
Sri Lanka is expecting to attract more than 1.2 million arrivals this year after successfully surpassing last year’s target of 950,000 tourists. Tourist arrivals to the county according to the industry needed to increase by 20 percent to achieve this yeartarget.
According to the World Travel Organization, world tourism is expected to grow three percent this year, mainly focusing on the Asian region, which Sri Lanka could capitalize after being cited as the best destination for 2012 by a leading Travel magazine.
For the first five months of this year tourist arrivals from North America increased by 15.2 percent to 24,259 from 21,062, while arrivals from Latin America and the Caribbean increased by 7.4 percent to 743 from 692.
Arrivals from Western Europe increased by13.7 percent to 176,624 from 155,288, while arrivals from Eastern Europe increased by 23.4 percent to 35,256 from 28,573.
Arrivals from Africa increased by 3.5 percent to 1,714 from 1,656, while arrivals from West Asia (Middle East) market which continue to drop declined by 2.9 percent to 17,655 from 18,189.
Arrivals from East Asia increased 20.8 percent to 57,631 from 47,721, while arrivals from South Asia increased 7.2 percent to 103,699 from 96,724.
Arrivals from Australasia increased 18.9 percent to 21,072 from 17,717.
Sri Lanka is witnessing a rapid increase of rooms and hotels with stepped up investments in the industry since 2009, the country is mulling further investments and expects more than US$ 2 billion this year.
According to a senior minister Sri Lanka will not be issuing Casino Licences to investors, however Casinos are considered to be a major attraction in many major tourist destinations.