India is Sri Lanka's biggest tourist market

Colombo, July 18 (IANS) India continued its reign as Sri Lanka's biggest tourist market with 83,981 tourists visiting the island nation till June, a government report said Thursday.

According to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, India was followed by Britain and Germany with 55,286 and 36,700 visitors, respectively, Xinhua reported.

The largest arrivals from a single country during a month also came from India, which recorded an arrival base of 13,856 in June, a 0.7 percent increase from a year earlier.

The agency said Sri Lanka was planning to capture the Chinese market within the next few years and has targeted 60,000 Chinese tourists for 2013.

Regionally, South Asia recorded the largest number of arrivals at 21,915 last month with a 9.6 percent growth over the same month of the previous year.

Tourist arrivals to post-war Sri Lanka in the first half of this year crossed the half million mark.

The tourism development authority said arrivals between January and June amounted to 512,281, up 13.1 percent over the first half of last year.

Sri Lanka is targeting 1.25 million tourists this year, up from one million in 2012.

Earnings from tourism are projected to hit $1.5 billion, up from $1 billion last year. Up to April, earnings amounted to $407.3 million, up by 19.8 percent over the first four months of last year.

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