Money, not war will hurt Sri Lanka tourism in ‘09

[Reuters]

The world financial crisis will cut 2009 tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka to their lowest level in seven years, potentially stripping gains expected as a 25-year war nears an end, tourism officials said on Friday. Tourism is the Indian Ocean island nation’s fourth-biggest source of foreign exchange after garments, remittances, and tea, and is an industry that has stayed alive during a war with Tamil Tiger separatists that started in 1983. Despite the conflict and occasional bombings in the capital Colombo, many visitors still flock to Sri Lanka’s white-sand beaches, visit its ancient cities, or make pilgrimages to sites sacred primarily to Buddhists and Hindus.

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