COLOMBO, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lankan Tourism Minister John Amaratunga on Monday expressed confidence in the country attracting over 2.5 million tourists in 2018.
Amaratunga told Xinhua he urged the embassies to lift travel restrictions issued against Sri Lanka and assured the island was now safe for tourists.
"My ministry will write to the embassies briefing them that the state of emergency has been lifted and the situation is now normal. Despite cancellations this month due to the violence, we are confident the numbers will pick up as Sri Lanka is a popular tourist destination," he said.
Amaratunga further said the country will host several international events this year including an international golf tournament and international stage shows with popular artistes.
He said several events were also planned to attract more Chinese tourists into the island country.
"China is one of our leading markets and we will take all steps to ensure we attract more Chinese tourists. We have several events planned including a mega digital advertising campaign in leading Chinese cities," the minister said.
Local media reports over the weekend said that tourism in the Central Hills had suffered a blow following communal violence which erupted in Kandy, earlier this month which left three dead, several injured and houses, shops, mosques and temples burnt and damaged.
Police said over 300 people had been arrested to date over the violence and things had now returned to normal across the Kandy district.
The state of emergency imposed on March 6 was lifted by President Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday after assessing the public safety situation.