Travel and Tourism - Sri Lanka - February 2013
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Following the end of the bitter 26-year conflict in 2009, and in the aftermath of the tragic events of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, when more than 30,000 people lost their lives, Sri Lanka is undergoing significant infrastructure development and investment. The tourism industry has been growing fast, with 2011 seeing the highest number of visitors to its shores than ever before, and figures for 2012 encouraging, possibly even reaching the 1-million mark. The country has been recently and regularly cited as a top emerging destination by travel industry experts including Lonely Planet, Condé Nast and National Geographic, and is widely regarded as affordable and easily accessible thanks to the availability of low-cost flights from the convenient travel hub of Bangkok.
The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) published a Tourism Development Strategy in September 2011, which included ambitious targets of tourist arrivals and expenditure to 2020. However, these are achievable if the country remains politically stable, and investment in its infrastructure stays ahead of the demand that it is currently experiencing.
The country offers a diverse tourism product, appealing to those seeking beaches as well as culture and adventure lovers, and those interested in more niche markets such as war tourism and culinary tourism. It also has a broad range of accommodation, from international chains to more intimate home-stays. Consequently, it has much to offer and potentially appeals to a broad market. However, the marketing message to each of these segments needs to be clear, and the product needs to match the expectations of the tourists. Anything less, and tourist arrivals will fall far short of the targets set.
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