COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – Sri Lanka greeted 1.52 million tourists in 2014 up 19.8 percent from a year earlier, with China becoming the third most important market, just behind the UK.
The state tourism office said arrivals in December rose 16.1 percent to 178,672 with Western Europe up 14.9 percent to 55,877, South Asia up 13.3 percent to 45,089 and East Asia up 65 percent to 29,243.
A slight slowdown was seen in November, after Presidential polls were declared for January and some in the tourist trade was seeing lower visitors, with more new properties also coming up.
In the full year 2014 China became the third most generating market up 136 percent to 128,166 rapidly overhauling on the UK which is the second most important market after India.
In 2013 China was behind Maldives, Germany and France in addition to UK and India and was in line with Australia.
UK visitors grew just 4.9 percent to 144,168 with 5.2 percent growth in December.
Visitors from India grew 16.3 percent to 242,734 remaining the top generating market.
Middle East grew 10.5 percent to 88,991 though in December arrivals fell 24.3 percent.
Other markets that fell included Ukraine which was hit by economic troubles following aggressive actions by Russia. Visitors were down 22.6 percent to 29,882.
Russia itself was hit by currency troubles later as oil prices fell. Full year visitors were up 36 percent to 69,718 with December arrivals also growing 7.4 percent to 9,279.
Sri Lanka’s tourism sector has taken off after the end of a 30-year war in 2009.