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Sri Lanka’s post-war tourism is booming. In the first half of this year, a total of 452,867 people including 85,000 from India, visited the island nation, government data shows.

This is an all-time high and an 18.7 percent growth over the same period last year, Xinhua reported. The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority said the highest number of tourists — 172,602 — in the first six months arrived from Western Europe booking flights to Sri Lanka.

Britain clocked the highest number of tourists at 47,975 booking flights to Colombo, followed by Germany with 32,081.

Despite not having high numbers, the largest growth percentage-wise came from Spain. The percentage of Spanish tourists grew by an impressive 89.2 percent from 2,058 in 2011 to 3,894 this year.

South Asia also remained a strong market with 116,717 arrivals.

India continued to lead the number of regional travellers with 85,426 arrivals in the first half of the year.

Maldives also showed a 6.7 percent growth with 20,602 tourists, the tourism authority said in its monthly bulletin.

Tourists from East Asia grew 36.7 percent from 41,340 in 2011 to 56,497.

The number of arrivals from Japan increased by 29.4 percent to 10,203, while China reached 9,622 arrivals posting a 11.7 percent increase from 8,613 in 2011.

The Sri Lankan government has set an ambitious target of one million arrivals for 2012 with more tourist booking flights to Colombo, and expects it to rise to 2.5 million by 2016. Around $2 billion in earnings are also expected from the tourism industry this year.

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