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2012-01-13

Sri Lanka



Set in the Indian Ocean in South Asia, the tropical island nation of Sri Lanka has a history dating back to the birth of time.  It is a place where the original soul of Buddhism still flourishes and where nature’s beauty remains abundant and unspoilt.

Few places in the world can offer the traveller such a remarkable combination of stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, captivating cultural heritage and unique experiences within such a compact location.  Within a mere area of65, 610 kilometres lie 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 1,330 kilometres of coastline - much of it pristine beach - 15 national parks showcasing an abundance of wildlife, nearly 500,000 acres of lush tea estates, 250 acres of botanical gardens, 350 waterfalls, 25,000 water bodies, to a culture that extends back to over 2,500 years.

This is an island of magical proportions, once known as Serendib, Taprobane, the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, and Ceylon. Discover refreshingly Sri Lanka!

When the noted writer Sir Arthur C Clarke made his home in Sri Lanka in 1956, he claimed the island jewel of the Indian Ocean was the best place in the world from which to view the universe. The author of 2001: A Space Odyssey passed away in 2008, but no doubt the futurist would have logged on to Google Earth to gaze back at his island home from an online universe. And concealed in the sky-high imagery of this teardrop-shaped nation, he would have recognised an amazing diversity for somewhere so compact.

Fringing the coasts is an array of gently arcing golden-sand beaches, now making a comeback after the devastation wreaked by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. Zoom closer to spy the giant tanks (artificial reservoirs) built by the first Sinhalese rulers around the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Pollonaruwa. In the Hill Country, a layer of cotton wool clouds obscures the view, mirroring the misty mornings travellers often experience in this area of waterfalls and verdant tea plantations.

Irrespective of their cultural background, Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim locals will welcome you with pride. Pride in their criminally underrated cuisine, pride in their national parks and wildlife, and – especially – pride in their national cricket team. Whether you’re a humble three-wheeler jockey or a British-trained lawyer or doctor, the sport that frequently stops the nation is always worthy of discussion. How will the boys do in the upcoming series against New Zealand? Will the country be ready to host the World Cup in 2011? And have you seen how much that opening batsman from Kandy is earning in the new Indian Premier League?

Faced with funding a war and weathering a global financial crisis, Sri Lanka’s proud population has been doing it tough for a few years. But equipped with a stellar combination of scenery, culture and history, a growing focus on sustainable tourism and (hopefully) a more settled society, Sri Lanka is firmly back on the radar for curious travellers seeking unique experiences.
Jan 06, Colombo: Sri Lanka's tourist arrivals hit a record high in December with 97,517 tourists arriving in the island, the data released by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Friday showed.
The month has recorded a 15.2 percent increase in arrivals compared to December 2010 while the number of arrivals in 2011 increased by 30.8 percent over the previous year.

SLTDA statistics have recorded 855,975 tourist arrivals in 2011 compared to the 654,476 arrived in 2010.
A record 315,210 tourists arrived from the Western Europe accounting for a 36.8 percent of total arrivals. Most of the European visitors were from Britain.
Another 237,647 or 27.8 percent arrived from South Asia, mostly from India.

Arrivals from Western Europe increased 22.7 percent while arrivals from South Asia increased 35.3 percent in 2011 from 2010.

Since the end of the war against the Tamil Tiger terrorists in May 2009, the country has seen increasing tourist arrivals every year for the past two years.

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

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