Mar 20, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Tourism Minister John Amaratunga has expressed confidence in exceeding this year's tourist arrival target of 2.5 million tourists.
Amaratunga has said that he had urged the embassies to lift travel restrictions issued against Sri Lanka following the communal violence in central hill country tourist city of Kandy earlier this month and assured that the island was now safe for tourists.
"My ministry will write to the embassies briefing them that the state of emergency has been lifted and the situation is now normal. Despite cancellations this month due to the violence, we are confident the numbers will pick up as Sri Lanka is a popular tourist destination," Xinhua quoted Minister Amaratunga as saying.
Amaratunga further said the country will host several international events this year including an international golf tournament and international stage shows with popular artistes.
He said several events were also planned to attract more Chinese tourists into the island country.
"China is one of our leading markets and we will take all steps to ensure we attract more Chinese tourists. We have several events planned including a mega digital advertising campaign in leading Chinese cities," the Minister said.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe earlier this month said the anti-Muslim clashes in Kandy, a major tourist area attracting millions of tourists, had inconvenienced foreign tourists visiting the island and a major blow to the tourism industry.
The state of emergency imposed to contain the clashes on March 6 was lifted by President Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday after assessing the public safety situation.