The Ministry of Economic Development has received applications for tourism sector projects with investments worth over US$ 2 billion in the first seven months of this year.
The Ministry under a fast tracks clearance process has approved 129 projects involving the building of 9,364 hotel rooms this year.
The Ministry received 217 applications worth US$ 2.14 billion up to July 2012, the deputy Economic Development Minister Lakshman Abeywardena said.
Minister Abeywardene said to attract foreign investment for tourism the cabinet has approved leasing prime lands under a 99 years lease agreement to foreign investors for hotel projects. The prices of the leases will be determined by the Government Chief Valuer, he added.
According to the Minister Sri Lanka will welcome over one million tourists this year.
In the first seven months of 2012 Sri Lanka welcomed 543,205 tourists up by 16.7 percent from the same period of last year.
During the first six months of 2012, revenue from tourism has risen 24.3 percent from the same period last year to $459.9 million.
The earnings from tourism for 2012 were estimated at US$ 980 million up from US$838.9 million in 2011.
Sri Lanka launched an ambitious five-year plan under the guidance of the Economic Development Minister to boost tourism in the country. Under the plan Sri Lanka expects to raise the number of arrivals to 2.5 million and to earn annual revenue of US$ 2.75 billion by 2016.