COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka’s tourism exceeded the government target for 2013 to reach 1.27 million arrivals after statistical counting methods were revised.
The original target for the year was 1.25 million tourists.
The latest data from the Sri Lanka Tourism Board reflect a 26 percent increase and this figure is expected to increase further this year as well.
Up to November, Sri Lanka welcomed 1,016,228 million tourists, and had to receive 200,000 tourists in December to attain its target, which would have been almost double the 122,000 arrivals in December.
According to the agency, Sri Lanka Tourism has validated the tourism arrival figures for each month of 2013 and according to the latest validation; Sri Lanka in total has received 1,274,593 tourists during 2013.
“The new validation was carried out based on statistics provided by the computer data collection method of Immigration and Emigration Department of Sri Lanka,” the statement stated.
Recent statistics revealed that Sri Lanka has not only received 153,918 tourists, up 26.7 percent from the previous year, but has also received more tourists in previous months.
Arrivals in January 2013 were now up 28.7 percent to 110,543 instead of the previous 13.4 percent and February arrivals were up 36.4 percent to 113,968 instead of the previous 11.6 percent.
While granting employment for millions of people, the industry acts as a tower of strength to SMEs and the cottage industry.
A Central Bank report showed that gains from tourism shot up 4.9 percent to $120.4 million year-on-year in November and 26.8 percent to $169.3 million in December.
Consequently, gains from tourism during 2013 recorded a year-on-year increase of 35 percent to $1.4 billion, weighing against growing gains of $1 billion in 2012.
Sri Lanka has surfaced from its 26-year war to develop into one of the fastest growing economies of the world.
Remittances also constitute an important part of country’s revenue.
The World Tourism Organization estimate that tourism accounts for up to 10 percent of global gross domestic product, making it the world’s biggest industry.
Its potential to contribute significantly to economic growth and uplifting society as a whole is considerable.
The island’s tourism business has been flourishing since the three-decade civil war ended in 2009.
Local media reported that the government has set a target for 1.5 million arrivals in 2014 and a revenue target of $1.8 billion.
The island hopes to reach 2.5 million arrivals and earn $3.5 billion by 2016.