The number of tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka rose 15.5 percent in October compared to the corresponding month in 2011. The growth percentage in October is low, however, compared to September, which recorded an 18.1 percent growth, Sri Lanka Tourism data revealed.
The number of foreign tourists increased 16 percent to 774,151 during the first 10 months of this year compared to 667,569 last year.
The number of arrivals last year was 855,975. Sri Lanka Tourism has set an ambitious target of attracting one million visitors by the end of this year.
Tourism industry experts are optimistic that the country will reach this target due to the steady growth on a monthly basis.
They also stress the need for an adequate number of hotel rooms and skilled workers to woo visitors.
Sri Lanka was recognised as one of the safest destinations to travel by a globally renowned magazine this year. Fifteen Lankan chefs also brought honour to the country by winning 14 Gold medals at the Culinary Olympics in Germany.
"We should not be over-confident and complacent about our achievements. Hard work will bring more dividends for the tourism industry" a Sri Lanka Tourism official said.
The number of tourist arrivals has not been consistent this year. The number dropped to a singe digit in April, July and August.
The Latin American and Caribbean market has been a key contributor to the growth in tourist arrivals this year.
The number of arrivals from the region rose 66.2 percent during the first 10 months of this year.
Eastern Europe and Africa were the other contributors to the growth last month, with an increase of 51.6 percent and 53.6 percent.
Arrivals from the traditional Western European market and South Asia which is a major market for MICE tourism in Sri Lanka have not been impressive this year.
The number of visitors from Western Europe rose 17 percent to 293,472 and South Asia 3.2 percent to 193,465. Visitors from the Middle East dropped 1.3 percent from January to October this year.
sundayobserver.lk by Lalin Fernandopulle