Sri Lanka to increase international air connectivity

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​Colombo, March 21 (IANS) Sri Lanka is looking to increase international air connectivity in an effort to boost tourism, a statement said here on Tuesday.

With the tourism industry recording a positive growth since 2009, officials said they now hope to have more direct flights, open skies policy, competitive landing and parking fees, incentivising low-cost airlines and smoother immigration and check-in procedures, Xinhua news agency reported.

Sri Lanka is also hoping, with public and private stakeholders, to create a "Colombo Calendar" of events which tourists can access across multiple channels.

"The main goal is to ensure Sri Lanka doubles its tourism sector earnings from the present $3.5 billion in 2016 to $7 billion by 2020," the Tourism Ministry statement said.

Last year, 2.05 million tourists arrived in Sri Lanka, taking the island's tourism earnings to a record of $346.98 million in July 2016.

India and China have been the leading markets with the most number of tourist arrivals.

Over 270,000 Chinese tourists arrived in Sri Lanka in 2016, with China recording the strongest growth of 26.4 per cent compared to the previous year.

This year, Sri Lanka has set a target of 2.5 million tourists. 

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