Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index
  • Help
  • Text only
Last updated: 19 February, 2010 - Published 15:42 GMT
Email to a friend   Printable version
UK arrivals help Sri Lanka tourism boom

A Canadian surfer walks along the beach at Hikkaduwa (file photo)
Sri Lanka has been a popular tourist destination before the conflcit intensified
Sri Lankan tourism officials say they have seen a sharp increase in the number of visitors from the UK.

Sri Lanka's Tourism Development Authority says there has been a 25 percent rise in tourist arrivals from the UK since the end of the decades-long civil war between the government and the Tamil Tigers last year.

Figures also show that tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka rose by nearly 32 percent in January.

At the height of the conflict with the Tamil Tigers, visitor numbers from the West dropped sharply, so Sri Lanka was heavily reliant on a regular influx of tourists from Russia who continued to visit despite the unrest.

However, the first winter season since the end of the civil war has seen a huge increase in interest in Sri Lanka, says Sanjika Perera, the Director of the country's tourist board in the UK & Ireland.

And Mr Perera says tourists have not been put off by the political turmoil during the recently concluded presidential election.

Political turmoil

Speaking to the BBC Sinhala service he said "tourists usually pre-book a tour at least 4-5 months in advance so there has been no impact as a result of the current political situation. The fact that no more explosions or attacks in the country have greatly enhanced the tourists' confidence."

Tourism is one of the major foreign exchange earners for the island nation.

A London cab promoting Sri Lanka in 2009 (photo: Daily News Sri Lanka)
Sri Lanka launched a promotional campaign in London cabs, last year

Mr. Perera says that the vast majority of the tourists from the UK have been arriving from London's two major airports; Heathrow and Gatwick though a considerable number have arrived from Manchester.

He also points out that there "does not seem to be any impact" by the "boycott Sri Lanka" campaign by sections of the Tamil diaspora in England.

The Sri Lankan government says the increasing demand from the UK has been helped by the relaxation of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Travel advisory as well as the opening up of major tourist attractions, such as Yala National Park and Arugam Bay, which were closed due to security reasons for years during the conflict between the government troops and the LTTE.

 The fact that no more explosions or attacks in the country have greatly enhanced the tourists' confidence
Sanjika Perera, Sri Lanka Tourism

Another major reason for the increase in arrivals from London is because of "the improved climate" for the expatriate Tamils to visit the north and east, according to Bala Pathmabaskaran, Managing Director of Skywings Ltd, a travel operator in London.

Thomson, a major tour operator in the UK meanwhile says the company has not experienced a significant rise in holiday bookings to Sri Lanka.

A company spokesperson said "however, we have witnessed an increase in the number of customers going on excursions when holidaying in the destination."

Tourism gather momentum - Tourist Board
19 September, 2009 | Sandeshaya
Sri Lanka asks IMF for loan
07 March, 2009 | Sandeshaya
Nepal welcomes SL President
02 March, 2009 | Sandeshaya
Cooray to promote Buddhist tourism
06 May, 2008 | Sandeshaya
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Email to a friend   Printable version
  About Us | Contact Us | Programmes | Frequencies
BBC Copyright Logo ^^ Back to top
  Sandeshaya | Highlights | Weather
  BBC News >> | BBC Sport >> | BBC Weather >> | BBC World Service >> | BBC Languages >>
  Help | Contact Us | Privacy statement