By Dulasha Hettiarachchi
Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka in the month of March has shown a significant increase as the number reached 157,051, up 18 percent year-on-year (YoY), with higher arrivals from China and Western European counties.
According to the official data released by the Sri Lanka Tourism, tourists from Western Europe rose 27.4 percent YoY to 57,094 with arrivals from the UK increasing 37 percent YoY to 16,191.
Arrivals from France and Germany also rose 8.5 percent YoY to 10,054 and 23 percent YoY to 15,294, respectively. The number of visitors from Spain more than doubled in March to 1,148.
Arrivals from Eastern Europe fell 16.1 percent YoY to 15,661 with lesser tourists coming in from Russia and Ukraine.
Tourists from Russia declined 21 percent YoY to 7,106 while from Ukraine 55 percent YoY to 1,502.
The political instability in both Russia and Ukraine is most likely to have caused this decline.Arrivals from Poland also fell 33.5 percent YoY to 1,903.
Visitors from East Asia were boosted by significantly higher arrivals from China. The number of Chinese arrived in the country surged 81.5 percent YoY to 13,975.However, arrivals from Japan, a key tourist market for Sri Lanka, fell 10.7 percent YoY to 3,800. Arrivals from Sri Lanka’s single largest source market, India, rose 16.6 percent YoY to 21,838, boosting arrivals from the South Asian region 15 percent YoY to 34,343.
Tourists from the Middle East during the month of March also rose 30 percent YoY to 8,594 with arrivals from Saudi Arabia growing 30 percent YoY to 3,903.
Sri Lanka targets two million tourists at the end of this year and 2.5 million by 2016.
The Sri Lanka Tourism follows the UN standard of defining a tourist as a person who stays at least one night in a country and does not exceed his stay period for more than 12 months.