10th September 2010, www.island.lk, By Mario Andree
Tourist arrivals during the first eight months of this year increased by 46.7 percent to 397,889 from 229,9582 a year ago while arrivals in August increased by 35.7 percent to 55,898 from 41,207 in August 2009, SLTDA data showed.
During the first eight months of this year, tourists from North America increased by 70.2 percent to 26,881 from 15,771 while Latin American visitors declined by 18.8 percent to 388 from 478.
Western European tourists increased by 50.4 percent to 162,500 from 108,049 while Eastern European visitors increased by 23.6 percent to 20,654 from 16,707.
South African arrivals picked up by 31.6 percent to 1,263 from 960 while tourists from the Middle East recorded a growth of 67.1 percent to 23,189 from 13,877.
East Asian tourists increased by 38.9 percent to 41,419 from 29,824 for the period, while South Asian tourists increased by 41.4 percent to 101,610 from 71,836.
Tourist arrivals from Australasia recorded an increase of 46.6 percent to 20,025 during the first eight months of this year, from 13,657 a year ago.
Tourism arrivals are picking up at a rapid pace and the country is facing a challenge to meet the growing demand. Industry expert Hiran Cooray told a recent forum that high construction costs were holding back development of the hospitality industry.
"The number of tourist arrivals is increasing but Sri Lanka has only 14,000 rooms. The number of rooms has to be increased, at least by another 20,000, in order to meet the growing demand," SLTDA said.
Meanwhile, UNOPS head of National Portfolio Development for Sri Lanka and Maldives, Rohantha Athukorala , a professional marketer, addressing the 22nd Annual Bankers’ Conference organised by the Association of Professional Bankers of Sri Lanka, said unless the banking sector shared the risks with prospective hotel developers, Sri Lanka would not be able to cater to new demand that the tourism sector was seeing after the war.
"We must embark on a Nation branding exercise so that by the time Sri Lanka is ready to host a financial hub, the profile of the country will be at a higher platform," he said.
A comparison chart and other statistics from SLTDA
Sri Lanka Tourist Arrivals