By Shehana Dain
China has finally dethroned India as Sri Lanka’s biggest tourism source market in February, producing strong growth and propelling arrival figures in the month to a record high.
In February, tourist arrivals from China amounted to 32,186 up by 17.4% as against India’s 26,559 up 33%. In January India held on to being Sri Lanka’s biggest source market with 28,895 arrivals as opposed to 26,083 from China.
However with February arrivals, China is also the biggest market for Sri Lanka in the first two months of 2016 with 57,269 tourists, up by 49% whilst Indian arrivals were 55,454, up by 29%.
Overall tourist arrivals in February reached a record with 197,697 up by 19.4% bringing the haul in the first two months of 2016 to 321,787, up by 22%
In January tourist arrivals grew by 24% to 194,280.
Western Europe continued its dominance as the biggest region with arrivals amounting to 73,533 up by 21% in February and to 137,223 for the first two months, up by 22.3%. UK produced 19,194 tourists in February, up by 26.2% followed by Germany 14,426 up by 10.5%. All markets in Western Europe produced double digit growth in January in comparison to a year earlier.
East Asia came in second owing to Chinese arrivals with a growth of 11.3% to 46,632 Russia saw a marginal growth of 2.5% to 6958 compared to a long period of negative growth. This followed by South Asia up 24.8% to 36,216.
Eastern Europe brought in 21,745 tourists, up by 25% while Ukrainian travellers amidst its internal conflicts within the country have travelled to Sri Lanka recording a 133.2% growth to 4,261. Arrivals from the Middle East saw 4.8% growth to 4,896, however the region saw a decrease of arrivals from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and Oman while only Israel showed growth.
Total arrivals and revenue hit record high of 1.79 million in 2015 up by 18%, while earnings from tourism increased to $ 2.86 billion compared to $ 2.43 billion in 2014. The Government has targeted 2.2 million visitors this year.