Tourism to Sri Lanka is virtually back to normal following
the Boxing Day tsunami.

Business was down by 23% for January, according to tourism
officials, when holidaymakers stayed away from the island following
the disaster. However, Sri Lankan minister for tourism Anura
Bandaranike said a dedicated marketing drive has helped trade
bounce back.

Bandaranike admitted the industry may have been “a little
slow” in dealing with the drop-off in tourism. “The
tsunami was a shock and it took us some time to recover,” he
said.

To reverse the decline, a series of marketing initiatives were
launched, including a high-profile Sri Lankan Airlines campaign in
February offering two flights to the island for the price of one,
while close work with operators to lower prices also enticed
holidaymakers to return.

March was the first time since the tsunami that sales figures
returned to normal compared with the same period last year.

Tourism is the island’s fourth biggest industry generating
$212 million last year alone while British visitors are the
country’s number one market, with 106,000 visiting last year.