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Sri Lanka's Tourist Arrivals Slump in December
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The number of tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka has seen a drop of 23.3 percent in December 2006, according to the official figures released on Thursday.


Sri Lanka Tourist Board, the government tourist authority, said that 39,224 tourists had arrived in the island in December, comparing with the 51,171 of the same month of 2005.


The contributions from major markets such as Britain and Germany had both recorded over 20 percent declines in the number of arrivals in December.


The figures however show a growth of 1.9 percent in the arrivals for the whole year of 2006 as opposed to the arrivals in 2005.


This was mainly on the back of an increased arrivals of Indian tourists which had seen a 13 percent growth.


Sri Lanka's tourism industry is a major foreign exchange earner for the island's economy.


It suffered a severe setback when the December 2004 tsunami tragedy destroyed the island's tourism infrastructure with two thirds of the coastal belt being devastated.


Analysts say the declining trend in 2006 was mainly due to the escalation of conflict between the government troops and the Tamil Tiger rebels, prompting foreign governments to issue travel warnings to their citizens.


Over 3800 people have been killed in the violence since December 2005, undermining the Norwegian effort to broker peace in the island.


(Xinhua News Agency January 12, 2007)


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