Sri Lanka welcomed over one million tourists in 2012.
03 January 2013
Sri Lanka's record year
As Sri Lanka continues its emergence after decades of civil war, the country's burgeoning tourism industry celebrated a record year in 2012 by welcoming its one millionth tourist.
Ms Jiang Ying and her husband Yang Bo were welcomed at Bandaranaike International Airport on 30, December, 2012 by a group of representatives from Sri Lanka's tourism industry and government agencies. The couple, visiting from China, were awarded with a second trip to the Indian island for free for being the milestone visitors.
Tourism in Sri Lanka has grown rapidly after the end of the three-decade long civil war in 2009; the millionth visitors not only represented a 17% increase on the previous year, but also US$1 billion (£620 million) in revenue for the country's growing economy.
Such is the growing demand for tourism in Sri Lanka, Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapakse has outlined a five year plan to develop the industry which includes attracting 2.5 million tourists a year, US$3 billion in foreign investment and quadrupling tourism related employment to 500,000 by 2016.
While the record one millionth visitor was Chinese, India, the UK and the Middle East remain the largest contributors to the country's tourism industry and targeted marketing campaigns have helped continue that trend.
Upon receiving her prize, Ms Jiang Ying said it was easy selecting Sri Lanka as her family's holiday destination.
"I had heard a lot about Sri Lanka from my friends and I was simply bewitched by photos on the Internet," said the lucky winner.
"Sri Lanka is as beautiful and breathtaking as presented in the photos. Moreover, Sri Lankans are very hospitable and kind."
The Worldwide Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in Sri Lankan visa and immigration services.