Sri Lanka is giving away prizes to agents during training sessions today as a thank you for getting UK visitor numbers close to the 2004 record.

They include a two-week holiday for two to Sri Lanka, one-week breaks and, in keeping with the eco-theme, the chance for agents to have a tree planted in their name.

Sri Lanka Tourism UK director Jean-Marc Flambert said UK visitors fell to 88,000 last year, but this year they are just 5% behind the record 106,000 arrivals of 2004.

He said: “We have been working with operators on joint marketing ventures.They have matched our funds, which has given us a fund of £1 million to spend over two years.“I am confident that as aresult, 2008 will be our best year from the UK.”

Flambert said UK operators’ support has also helped to confirm Sri Lanka is a safe destination, despite ongoing fighting between the government and Tamil Tigers.

He said: “We are a tiny portion of their business. They would pull out if there was any doubt about the safety. That, combined with publicity in national papers and on TV, has resulted in extra bookings.”

Agents can sign up in advance for the training, which will be at stand AS5200 at 11.00am, 2.30pm and 3.30pm.

The destination will also be raising awareness of its environmental initiatives as it proclaims itself a model for others to follow.