Sri Lanka has ended 2010 with a record 654,476 tourist arrivals, beating the original forecast by a substantial 50,000 persons.
Total arrival figures in 2010 reflected a 46% increase over the previous year whilst the original forecast for 2010 was around 600,000 tourists. The year 2010 also beat the previous highest figure of 566,202 achieved in 2004. The government had forecast arrivals to hit a record 700,000 in 2011
A Reuters report said arrivals rose as a direct result of the post-war rebound.
The 84,627 visitors in December also broke the single month record of 72,251 clocked in November, tourism board data showed.
Arrivals have risen every month since the government defeated the Tigers in May 2009 and ended a three-decade civil war.
Tourism revenue has jumped 64.3 percent in the first 11 months of 2010 to a record $501.5 million, the central bank’s latest data shows.
The previous full-year record of $416.8 million was also set in 2004. Reuters said Sri Lanka aims to attract $2.7 billion in investments to upgrade its post-war tourism capacity, with the goal of growing revenue to $2.5 billion by 2016.
The hotel and travel index .CSEHT on the Colombo Stock Exchange has more than tripled since the end of the war, outpacing the overall stock index, which has more than doubled.
Tourism is one of the main foreign exchange earners for Sri Lanka’s $42 billion economy along with remittances, garments, and tea. Tourism revenue was $326 million in 2009, according to revised numbers given by the tourism board.
Sri Lanka, through its 2011 budget, has imposed a tax of $20 per room night on five-star hotels if they fail to charge a minimum rate of $125.