Tourism will be the number one foreign exchange earner in less than three years,Tourist Hotels Association President Hiran Cooray said.
Speaking at the Sri Lanka Press Conference at the World Tourism Market Cooray said this year the revenue is expected to pass the US$ 2.5 billion mark and they are expecting a target in the excess of US$ 3 billion by 2015 year end.
Tourism has already moved to the third position overtaking tea. Foreign remittances and apparel export are the top two.
He said that confidence has returned to stakeholders and Sri Lanka today is among the top 14 destinations in Asia. He said that new destinations too have opened especially in the North and East allowing the financial benefits of the industry to trickle to them as well. “The Youth in the North East can now see the world through tourism.”
Cooray who is also Jetwing Hotels Chairman said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe too has identified tourism as a thrust area and this too is good for the industry.
He also thanked tourists from the United Kingdom, France and Germany for visiting Sri Lanka during troubled times. “We have not forgotten them though both China and India have now overtaken their arrivals numbers,”he said.
He also said that Sri Lanka is fast making a name as a cruise destination and last year there were 47 callings in Colombo while for 2015 this number will be 76.
Cooray said hotel owners too take care of the environment and most of the hotels use renewable energy.Asked to comment on the figures that are being published he said that they are being tabulated under international rules.