04/08/2008, 00.00
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Sri Lanka and Pakistan excluded from the tourism boom of the subcontinent

The two countries represent the only exceptions to the general growth of tourism in the region. Among the leading causes, political instability and terrorism. In Nepal, after the peace agreement with the Maoists, +27%.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - The tourism industry in southern Asia generally showed growth in 2007, except for Pakistan and Sri Lanka.  Political instability and a lack of security in these two countries led to a drop in arrivals from abroad: -7% for Pakistan, and -12% for Sri Lanka.  Data published today by the Singhala newspaper The Island place the former Ceylon in last place among the tourism destinations in the entire region.

In general, the tourism industry in the subcontinent showed growth of 12%.  In 2006, after the blow inflicted by the tsunami in December of 2004, Sri Lanka barely reached 560,000 visitors. Last year, the number fell even further, to 494,000. The steepest drop (-40%) was in May, following the attack by the Tamil Tigers on the Bandaranaike international airport, and the subsequent curfew imposed on night-time flights.

Nepal holds the top spot in the region, with 27% growth in the sector. This increase of tourists in the country is connected to the signing of the peace agreement that put an end to the decades-old Maoist uprising. The phenomenon has also led to employment growth in the country. After Nepal comes India, with +13%. In this context, the other blemish, in addition to Sri Lanka, is represented by Pakistan, where tourism demand fell by 7% in 2007. Experts say this is related to the country's serious political instability and frequent terrorist attacks.

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