Sri Lanka has seen the highest tourist arrivals growth this year in September, propelling the cumulative figure to over 1.3 million.
As per data released by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, arrivals in September amounted to 143,374, up by 36%, the highest year-on-year growth so far this year. The previous best was in July, which produced a 31% growth to record an arrivals figure of 175,804.
With the September haul, tourist arrivals in the first nine months were 1.315 million, up by 17% from the corresponding period of last year.
Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman Dr. Rohantha Athukorala said the European tourists registered a growth of 11.2% whilst the Asian travellers, accounting for 45.2%, grew by a commanding 27.9% to reach 595,583 visitors.
“This indicates the changing trend that Sri Lanka will be challenged with in the future. Rather than focusing on numbers, Sri Lanka must generate quality tourism which is what the 2016 marketing plan will target,” Athukorala added.
Arrivals from Western Europe increased 26.9% in September with the arrival of 35,819 tourists, compared to the 28,234 tourists who arrived in the same month last year. Most of the tourist arrivals from Western Europe were from the UK (up 24% to 11,160) and Germany (up 18.5% to 8,292).
Tourist arrivals from East Asia increased 34.9% as 31,729 visited the country compared to the 23,516 who visited in September 2014. Arrivals from China compared to last year increased 54.0% with the arrival of 20,502 visitors while arrivals from Japan declined 6.2%.
Arrivals from South Asia increased by 41.8% as 40,498 tourists visited the island in September. Of those who arrived from South Asia, 27,233 were from India, corresponding to an increase of 41.5%.
Arrivals from the Middle East increased by 65.9% with 13,752 visitors arriving in September 2015.
Arrivals from Eastern Europe increased by 21.9% with the arrival of 8,601 tourists in September 2015 compared to the 7,058 arrivals in September 2014. However, tourist arrivals from Eastern Europe declined this year by 5.5% due to the economic recession in Russia and the crisis in Ukraine.
Arrivals from North America increased 41.3% to 5,419 in September. Arrivals from US were up 47.5% to 3,232 while arrivals from Canada increased by 33.0% to 2,187 during the month.
In the first seven months of this year earnings from tourism increased by 16.8% to $ 1.6 billion.
Sri Lanka exceeded its target of 1.5 million tourist arrivals last year and earned $ 2.206 billion from tourism. The Tourism Authority has set a target of two million tourist arrivals this year and 2.5 million by 2016.