COLOMBO, Sept 27 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka will seek to promote ecotourism and protect the environment as part of its tourism agenda in the coming months, Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said here Tuesday.
Addressing an event to mark World Tourism Day, Amaratunga said that while accessibility remains a key component of Sri Lanka's tourism development strategy, sustainability of the industry is of equal importance.
"We must ensure that our resources and attractions remain unharmed by the development activities which are currently taking place in this country," Amaratunga said.
"We must resort to ecotourism practices wherever possible and the protection of the environment should be at the top of the tourism agenda," he added.
Amaratunga expressed satisfaction in the tourism industry's rapid growth adding the forthcoming winter season would be the "best this country has witnessed."
He said Sri Lanka was expecting a record number of 2.5 million tourists by the end of this year, as against last year's 1.8 million.
Tourism was one of the hardest-hit economic sectors by the nearly three-decade-long conflict against Tamil Tiger rebels.
Following the defeat of the rebels in May 2009, and the subsequent removal of negative travel advisories, the country's tourism industry has witnessed a sudden boom in recent years.
China is currently the leading market for Sri Lanka's tourism, with an expected 300,000 Chinese tourists to visit this Island country this year.