COLOMBO, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka aims to double the number of tourists to 5 million by 2020 as part of a new tourist strategy to boost earnings of the south Asian island country, a top official said here on Wednesday.
Tourism Minister John Amaratunga, while attending a ceremony to celebrate the World Tourism Day, said the government is preparing to launch "Tourism Vision 2025 and Tourism Strategic Plan 2017 -2020" over the next few weeks.
"These plans envision doubling tourism revenue and employment by the year 2020, while ensuring long-term sustainability of the industry," he said.
The primary areas of focus, according to the plan, include world-class management of natural and cultural heritage sites, strong connectivity to and around the island country, ensuring a safe and secure destination, and promoting community participation, while protecting and conserving natural resources.
"We are also committing ourselves through these documents to ensure that the benefits of tourism flow down to the communities," he added.
Sri Lanka's tourism industry boomed after the end of civil war in 2009 with arrivals growing to a record 2.05 million at the end of 2016. This year the country has targeted an ambitious number of 2.5 million tourists.
According to data released by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), cumulative arrivals of tourists in the first eight months rose 3.5 percent to over 1.4 million compared to 1.3 million in the same period last year.
Tourism accounts for close to 5 percent of Sri Lanka's economy. In the first six months of 2017, Sri Lanka earned 1.7 billion U.S. dollars from tourism.