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Monday, March 18, 2013 - 6.19 GMT
Mattala airport to boost tourism industry


The inauguration of the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport as the second international airport of Sri Lanka, will be an important catalyst for the development of the tourism industry.

The Tourism Industry will greatly benefit from the new Airport in various avenues, mainly as a tourism hub which would provide opportunities for passengers to reach value adding segments of the tourism sector, such as surfing, whale watching, wildlife, beaches, history and culture, etc.

The end of a 30 year war against terrorism and the restoration of peace and political stability are fast restoring Sri Lanka's importance as a tourist destination.

With its unique diversity, Sri Lanka continues to attract an increasing number of travelers. Thus the bookings in 2012 increased over an impressive 17.5 percent compared to the previous year. According to Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, a total of 1,005,605 tourists visited the country between January and December.

Sri Lanka welcomed the 950,000th visitor on December 18th accomplishing the annual target for 2012. One million tourist arrivals in 2012 are estimated to bring revenues exceeding one US$ billion, up from last year's record income of $830.3 million earned from 855,975 arrivals.

Sri Lanka has set a target of 1.3 million tourist arrivals for 2013.

With the opening of Mattala International Airport (MRIA) in Hambantota, Sri Lanka would be able to surpass the target of 2.5 million arrivals in 2016 and anticipate a further one million arrivals.

The location of Mattala close to the Yala sanctuary would enable foreign tourists to disembark at MRIA and tour the Southern area of the country, enjoying wildlife and sunny beaches.

The biggest advantage of MRIA is that it is located at the centre of the Hambantota district, bordering Monaragala and 
Ratnapura districts. Nuwara Eliya is a two hours and forty five minute drive through Ella-Wellawaya, which is a very scenic route. The surfing destination Arugam Bay is about three hours away and the Yala National Park that drew over 15,000 tourists in December 2012 is just 35 minutes away from the airport.

With 373,063 visitors (up 18.4 percent), tourists from the EU countries made the majority, representing a market share of 37.1%. Taken together, Europe generated 44.3% of all foreign arrivals. UK is Sri Lanka’s major source market from Europe with over 114,000 arrivals in 2012, followed by Germany and France.

Another positive development is that more international hotel brands are discovering Sri Lanka as a market.

Tourist arrivals in 2012/2013

Month 2012 2013 % Cha.2012/13
January 85,874 97,411  13.4
February 83,549    
March 91,102    
April 69,591    
May 57,506    
June 65,245    
July 90,338    
August 79,456    
September 71,111    
October 80,379    
November 109,202    
December 122,252    
Total 1,005,605 97,411 13.4

(Source: Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority)

According to Travel Daily News Sri Lanka is known worldwide as the island with the greatest diversity - both in terms of species richness, as well as the cultural heritage. 15 national parks and eight UNESCO World Heritage sites are to be found on 65,000 square kilometers. Besides palm-fringed sandy beaches of a total length of 1,340 km, pristine rainforests and great surfing and diving spots are waiting. The whole beauty of the island can be seen on train rides through picturesque mountain sceneries. Based upon its past as a British colony, the island offers an exquisite tea culture. Healing and wellness treatments are part of the tradition on Sri Lanka; the country is considered the cradle of Ayurveda, which in combination with yoga emerged to a unique form of Wellbeing.

The Government has done much in the past years to fulfil the needs of the tourism industry. The Government identified tourism as a fast emerging potential growth sector in the economy in terms of foreign exchange earnings, employment creation, infrastructure development and regional development.





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Last modified: March 18, 2013.

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