COLOMBO, March 27, 2015 : (Xinhua) — Sri Lanka’s tourism earnings kicked off the year with moderate 6.6 percent growth posting 248.7 million U.S. dollars in January 2015 from 233.3 million U.S. dollars in the same period last year, official data released by the Central Bank said here on Wednesday.
Tourist arrivals grew at a healthy rate of 6.6 percent year-on- year, to 156,246 in January 2015 from 146,575 in January 2014.
India, Britain, China, Germany and Russia were the top five sources of tourist arrivals accounting for 43.3 percent of total arrivals in January 2015, the Central Bank added in its latest report.
China outstripped Britain to become the second largest source of tourists to Sri Lanka growing by 85 percent in February when compared with the previous year.
Chinese tourist arrivals of 21,098 in February 2014 expanded to 39,160 in 2015, which is an increase ofÂ 85.6 percent. Latest data released by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Board (SLTDB) showed Chinese arrivals comfortably outstripping British tourists of 28,622 in the same month.
Overall the month recorded 165,541 tourists arriving in the country compared to the 141,878 arrived in February 2014.”In the first two months of this year, 321,787 tourists visited the island, an increase of 11.6 percent compared to the same period in 2014,” the SLTDB said.
Chinese tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka kicked off the New Year positively growing by 8.9 percent in January. In the first month of 2015 Chinese arrivals grew to 11,735 from 10,779 in January 2014.
Chinese tourists to the tiny island in the Indian Ocean have risen rapidly over the last two years with 2014 ending at an all- time high. In 2013 only 54,288 Chinese tourists visited Sri Lanka but the numbers ballooned to 128,166 by the end of last year growing an impressive 136.1 percent, according to the SLTDB.
Only tourists from India outstripped numbers from China. China already has the highest growth rate of any country.
Since the end of a three decade war in 2009 Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals have boomed reaching over 1.5 million last year and attracting earnings of 1.7 billion U.S. dollars, according to the Central Bank.
The tropical island is aiming to attract 2.5 million arrivals by 2016, buoyed by fast increasing numbers from China.