Colombo, Sept 27 (NIA) – Sri Lanka will seek to promote eco-tourism and protect the environment as part of its tourism agenda in the coming months, Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said here Tuesday.
Addressing an event held in Colombo to mark World Tourism Day, Amaratunga said that while accessibility remains a key component of Sri Lanka’s tourism development strategy, sustainability of the industry is of equal importance.
“We must ensure that our resources and attractions remain unharmed by the development activities which are currently taking place in this country,” Amaratunga said.
“We must resort to eco-tourism practices wherever possible and the protection of the environment should be at the top of the tourism agenda,” he added.
Amaratunga further expressed satisfaction in the tourism industry’s rapid growth and added that the forthcoming winter season would be the “best this country has witnessed.”.
He further stated that Sri Lanka was expecting a record breaking number of tourist arrivals by the end of this year with an aim of reaching 2.5 million tourists as against last year’s 1.8 million.
Sri Lanka’s tourism industry was one of the economic sectors that was hardest hit by the nearly three decade long conflict against Tamil Tiger rebels.
Following the defeat of the rebels in May 2009, and the subsequent removal of negative travel advisories, the island’s tourism industry witnessed a sudden boom in the recent years.
China is currently the leading market with the most number of tourist arrivals with the government recently announcing that it is targeting at least 300,000 Chinese tourists this year.