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Tourism to be top forex earner in 2016

Tourism, with revenue generated from visa on arrival fees will be Sri Lanka's number one foreign exchange earner by 2016 where the country is targeting 2.5 million tourist arrivals. Sri Lankan tourist industry would achieve a golden double of more than one million arrivals and US$ one billion revenue by year's end,which is the target set for 2013.


Three German Tour Operators were awarded for their loyalty. Deputy Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene, SriLankan Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe and Ambassador Sarath Kongahage with the award winners. Picture by Shirajiv Sirimane

Tourist Hotels Association and Serene Pavilion Chairman, Anura Lokuhetty said that with peace, tourism is achieving its targets ahead of time. The target set for 2016 is 2.5 million arrivals and US$ three billion in revenue.

However with this positive trend set to continue, the country would collect over US $ six billion (with visa fee charges) which would make the industry the number one foreign exchange earner from its current fifth position, he said.

He said that though there was fear in the industry that the visa on arrival policy would have a negative impact on the industry this has not been the case.

However he cautioned that Sri Lanka is not the only girl in the beach and other countries too are trying hard to promote themselves more vigorously than Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is currently a hot destination. However this advantage would not be there for ever. I think international marketing is now a grey area for Sri Lanka as the private sector cannot do this, he said.

Sri Lanka tourism should take a lead in this regard and invite foreign travel writers to come to Sri Lanka as newspaper publicity would help to promote Sri Lanka in a big way.

He also cautioned the industry that though the country is getting high spenders they should not ‘over price’ since this too would drive away tourists.

The International Tourism Exchange, which is also known as the ITB, is considered the largest global event of the Travel Industry concluded yesterday. Since 1968, Sri Lanka played a considerable role as a member of this event.

In 2012 too, Sri Lanka Tourism plans to take part in this event with positive expectations, marking the consecutive 44th year successfully.

German tourists to Sri Lanka alone exceeded 55,880 last year, indicating a very good potential for Sri Lanka in the German tourist market and this is expected to reach a five figure mark this year.

The awards were designed with Sri Lankan gems with the intention of promoting exclusive Sri Lankan gems in Germany.

This event was held with the participation of Deputy Minister Economic Development Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene, Ambassador Sarath Kongahage, Chairman, Sri Lankan Airlines, Nishantha Wickramasinge and other industry stakeholders.

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