COLOMBO: Sri Lanka, which is already experiencing a boom in tourist arrivals this year, is likely to benefit from a fall in travel to Europe and several other hotspots because of Islamic terrorism, the Colombo-based daily Ceylon FT says.
Given the restoration of peace and democracy in the island country after the January 8, 2015 Presidential election won by the dove, Maithripala Sirisena, Sri Lanka has been attracting tourists like never before.
There had been a 93 percent increase in the first six months of 2016 – a growth rate outstripping Bali in Indonesia which had been the tropical paradise Western tourists were craving for till bomb attacks ripped it apart.
According to a study conducted by the South African travel company Flight Center Travel Group, travel to Belgium between January and July was down by 16 percent because of three terror attacks which killed 32 people. Travel to France, hit by a wave of terror, was down by 29 percent.
Tunisia, once a hotspot for tourism, was down by 38 percent because a gunman killed 38 people in a beach resort.
Turkey had been hardest hit with arrivals halved.
Buoyed with the surge in arrivals in the first six months of 2016, the Sri Lankan government is hopeful of reaching its target of getting 2.2 million arrivals this year.
And the growing unpopularity of several other tourist destinations due to terrorism, may well help Sri Lanka reach the target, CeylonFT says.