COLOMBO — Helped by growing Chinese travelers, Sri Lanka’s post-war tourism industry hit yet another high ending 2014 with unprecedented 1.5 million arrivals, the Central Bank said on Feb 26.
With the significant increase in tourist arrivals in December, the total for 2014 was recorded at 1,527,153, the Central Bank said in its latest external sector performance report.
“Surpassing the 1.5 million milestone figure for the first time, the industry has hit a 19.8 percent annual growth. India, China, UK, Germany and Maldives were the top five sources of tourist arrivals,” the statement added.
Chinese tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka kicked off the new year positively, growing by 8.9 percent in January.
In the first month of 2015 Chinese arrivals grew to 11,735 from 10,779 in January 2014 retaining their spot as the third highest source of tourists to Sri Lanka.
Chinese tourists to the tiny island in the Indian Ocean have risen rapidly over the last two years with 2014 ending at an all- time high. In 2013 only 54,288 Chinese tourists visited Sri Lanka but the numbers ballooned to 128,166 by the end of last year growing an impressive 136.1 percent, according to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA).
Only tourists from India and the UK outstrip numbers from China and experts say China will likely overtake Britain to the second place by the end of this year. China already has the highest growth rate of travelers.
Since the end of a three decade war in 2009, Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals have boomed, reaching over 1.5 million last year and attracting earnings of $1.7 billion, according to the Central Bank.
The tropical island is aiming to attract 2.5 million arrivals by 2016, buoyed by fast increasing number of tourists from China.