- 9,400 new rooms approved, 5,300 more being processed
- 82,508 arrivals within 21 days of January; Income from visa fee tops half million dollar mark
Confirming post-war rebound is gathering pace the Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa on Saturday said several industry targets were on course.
“Construction of 9,400 new rooms have been approved and a further 5,300 being processed, as part of the country’s efforts to add 45,000 new rooms by 2016 from the current base of 22,235 rooms,” Godahewa revealed at the opening of the Citrus Leisure’s first venture Citrus Hikkaduwa.
The capacity expansion and overall target can be accelerated with improved or expedited investor and project facilitation, Godahewa understandably referring to read tape and bureaucracy.
“My Government, my President, my Minister and my Secretary are committed to ensure a rapid growth under the industry’s strategic plan and we will support private sector endeavours,” Tourism Chief Godahewa said at the opening of 93-room Citrus Hikkaduwa by Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa.
He also said that tourist arrivals up to Saturday or first 21 days of January had reached 82,508, a development, Tourism Chief said reinforces hope of the country achieving the milestone of 100,000 arrivals mark for the first time in history. “This is a fantastic start for 2012,” he added.
Despite reservations expressed on account of new visa scheme, tourists are coming and income earned from the visa scheme so far amounts $ 524,000,” Godahewa revealed.
Tourism Chief also expressed confidence that earnings from tourism in 2012 will exceed $ 2 billion, a massive jump from near $ 1 billion (over $ 800 million) last year. He emphasised that encouraging increase in arrivals so far this year was on the back of 30% growth in 2011 and over 40% increase in 2010. “We are confident of achieving the target of 2.5 million tourist arrivals by 2016,” he added.