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Sri Lanka Safe for Visitors: Tourism Ministry
Sri Lanka Safe for Visitors: Tourism Ministry

COLOMBO, Jan. 6 -- Sri Lanka is launching a fresh publicity blitz to entice more tourists to spend their vacation in the island country following an outbreak of fresh violence in the northeast of the country, Daily News reported Friday.

Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism Prathap Ramanujam said the island is safe and calm for visitors and urged tourists and travel agencies overseas not to cancel travel plans.

Those who have planned vacations in Sri Lanka need not have safety worries. They can count on a warm welcome to this country, Ramanujam said. 

The tourist arrivals plummeted with 48,457 tourists arrival in November last year, pushing cumulative figures for the fist 11 months in 2005 down 0.4 percent to 498,137 compared with same period of the previous year, the Tourist Board said. 

For the fist 10 months in 2005, 92,163 Indian visitors helped the segment grow 12.4 percent year-on-year, over a 19.4 percent drop from Germany and a 7.2 percent drop from Britain- two of Sri Lanka's key tourism markets.

The Board hopes to promote these products by painting billboards and busses throughout key Indian cities this year. Indians have overtaken traditional Europe-heavy tourism market, to emerge as the single largest source of tourists last year, the Tourist Board said. 

The upsurge of violence in the North and East has given new jitters to the industry. Some 40 soldiers were killed by the rebels through a series of claymore mine attacks in Dec. 2005 seriously endangering the Norwegian backed ceasefire.


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