Staff Reporter

Emerald Isle eyes a million visitors by 2010

Road show to showcase Sri Lankan tourism held in Hyderabad SLTB says 1.13-lakh Indian tourists visited Sri Lanka last yearThe Board plans to increase the number to over 1.5-lakh touristsSri Lankan Airlines operates 85 flights to nine destinations in India

HYDERABAD: The land that saw tourist arrivals dip like never before in year 2001 is putting its act together and gearing up to woo an estimated million tourists by year 2010.

A Sri Lankan delegation of tourism-related officials on Friday said year-on-year, the island nation was witnessing a welcome increase in Indian arrivals, regardless of the violence that broke out ever so often.

At a road show to showcase Sri Lankan tourism here on Friday, Madhubhani Perera, Assistant Director, Marketing, Sri Lanka Tourist Board (SLTB) announced that the million would include two-lakh Indian tourists. Last year, 1.13-lakh Indians visited Sri Lanka, a number that SLTB was working to increase to 1.5-lakh.

Ms. Perera said the average spend by a tourist was US $ 73 a day, a figure that they wanted to increase to US $ 400 by year 2010. Sri Lanka followed an open skies policy and a visa-free facility for tourists from 76 nations, she said. An exchange rate of Sri Lankan Rs. 2.4 for every Indian rupee made for a powerful tool for shopping.

N. Prabaharan of Sri Lankan Airlines said already the airline was the largest carrier of tourists to Sri Lanka with 85 flights to nine destinations in India, week after week. From November, Goa would be added to the list of destinations.

Presentation

Ranjan Stanislaus, GM, Taj Exotica, Bentota, made a presentation of facilities available at the three of the luxury group properties in Sri Lanka including Taj Samudra, Colombo, and Taj Airport Garden, Seeduwa.