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Sri Lanka celebrates highest ever visitor arrivals in 2016

Tourism in Sri Lanka is booming, after the island nation recorded 2,058,000 tourists in 2016. The numbers were a 14 per cent increase compared to 2015 and the highest ever recorded, according to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority. This year, the country is setting a target of 2.5 million tourists, and anticipates to receive four million visitors by 2020.

Sri Lanka celebrates highest ever visitor arrivals in 2016

The island nation of Sri Lanka is celebrating a boom in tourism after record-breaking numbers were released by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA). The country received a total of 2,058,000 of international visitors during 2016, which is a 14 per cent increase compared to the previous year.

The Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said that the numbers were the highest the island had ever recorded, and in 2017, the tourism board expects to record 2.5 million arrivals. As the tourism industry to grow, the ministry has set a target of four million tourists by 2020. Mr Amaratunga said that earnings generated from tourism increased to $3.5 billion in 2016 from $2.8 billion in 2015.

Sri Lanka has become a popular destination for sunshine getaways and cultural breaks following the end of the 25-year-long civil war in 2009. The tourism industry is thriving, and as a result more luxury hotel brands have entered the market to cater for high end travellers.

At first, the internationally branded hotels were popping up on the coastline, but as the country’s infrastructure grows, more brands are entering the capital of Colombo and other regions on the island. Some global hotel chains who already operate properties on the island include Marriott International, Shangri-La, Sheraton and RIU Hotels. Domestic hotel chains include Jetwing, John Keells, and Aitken Spence.

The island’s beaches are one of the main reasons why holidaymakers flock to Sri Lanka, and with 830 miles of coastline, there are plenty of golden and white sandy stretches to choose from. The palm-fringed beaches face the turquoise Indian Ocean, and while some tourists enjoy relaxing on the powder-soft sand, others prefer to take part in water activities including scuba diving, snorkelling, kayaking and surfing.

Sri Lanka is rich in history and heritage, and as a result the country now boasts eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These include the Sinharaja Forest Reserve, the city of Kandy, the city of Galle, the Dambulla cave temple, Polonnaruwa (the first capital), the town of Dambulla, and the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya.

Wildlife is also another main attraction for holidaymakers, and the island is home to diverse wildlife species, flora and fauna, on land and in the sea. Asian elephants, sloth bear, leopards, wild buffaloes, Greater Flamingos, saltwater crocodiles and sambar are just some of the species tourists can catch sightings of during a wildlife safari. Nature lovers can watch turtles lay their eggs on the beaches, and the sea is teeming with colourful fish, marine turtles, dugongs, dolphins, and whales.

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