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* Sri Lanka tourism close to achieving its target on tourist arrivals
Fri, Dec 14, 2012, 12:56 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Dec 13, Colombo: Sri Lanka is on the verge of achieving its target of one million tourists for 2012, a junior government minister has said.

The Deputy Minister of Economic Development Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena addressing a media briefing today (13) has said that the tourism industry expects to achieve the target set for this year within the next two days.

The Deputy Minister has said that this achievement has been made despite global economic crisis and anti-Sri Lankan propaganda carried out by the Tamil diaspora and local elements.

"This year was a very bright period for the tourism industry in the country," he has said.

According to Deputy Minister Abeywardena, despite the anti-Sri Lankan propaganda distributed by the Tamil Diaspora at the World Trade Mart held in London recently tourist arrivals from Britain has seen a 3.5 percent rise.

The Deputy Minister told the media that several airlines have reestablished operations to the country. British Airways and Korean Airlines will start operations to Colombo from March next year, he informed.

He said that negotiations are being carried out with several other airlines including Turkish Airline to start services to Colombo.

Meanwhile, a panel of experts of the British Airways to designate best tourist destinations for the year 2013 has named Sri Lanka as the number one best tourist destination for the year 2013.

The tourism authority has set a target of 1.3 million tourist arrivals for 2013.

Foreign investment inflows to the country this year has also risen significantly. The Board of Investment has signed an agreement for a major tourism investment project this morning and another agreement for infrastructure development will be signed tomorrow, the Minister said.

Deputy Minister Yapa said the hotel occupancy rates have significantly increased and at present all hotels in and around Colombo is fully booked. Another 5,800 rooms will be added to the room capacity by the end of this year, he revealed.



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