Colombo, May 4 (NIA) – Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka picked up in April with over 160,000 tourists arriving during the month, after February and March recorded a negative growth due to the partial closure of the country’s main airport, statistics from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Bureau showed here Thursday.
India was the number one market in April with the most number of tourist arrivals with 26,323 while China came in second with 19,823 arrivals.
UK generated the third highest number of arrivals with 17,841 tourists.
Overall over 760,000 tourists arrived in Sri Lanka from January to April 2017, a 6.1 percent growth from the 721,825 tourists who arrived during the same period last year.
Tourist arrivals had seen a decline in February and March, due to the partial closure of Bandaranaike International Airport from Jan 8 to April 8 in order to renovate its runway, which required passengers to check in five hours prior their flight departures whilst airlines also had to reschedule their timings due to the day time closure of the airport from 8 am to 4 pm.
However with the airport getting back to its normal operations from the first week of April, the month recorded a positive growth of 17.5 percent with 160,249 tourist arrivals.
Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is poised to become the number one foreign exchange earner with several leading international travel agents branding Sri Lanka as a ‘must see’ destination in 2017.
Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said that the country was expecting 2.5 million tourists this year and was confident it could achieve its target.