Colombo: The double-digit growth of tourists coming to Sri Lanka has sparked a massive expansion drive by several hotel giants, the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau's (SLTPB) Middle East office has announced.

The total hotel expansion and development spending is estimated at Dh18 billion, while inbound tourism is estimated to be 2.5 million by 2016.

The post conflict resolution has resulted in an increased demand for hotel rooms.In the Middle East, the first six months of 2010 saw an enormous surge in the number of people, many of them from Saudi Arabia, travelling to Sri Lanka, according to figures compiled by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau's (SLTPB) Middle East office.

"Arrivals rose by an unprecedented 96 per cent in the first six months of 2010, compared to the same period last year," said Heba Al Mansouri, the Middle East Director of SLTPB, which is based in Dubai.

The number of travellers from the Middle East has led to a general increase of 102 per cent, in comparison the same period last year.

"Regardless of apprehensions about an unsteady global economy, the Middle East's discerning travellers are spending time and money on travel and Sri Lanka has become one of the preferred destinations, which has seen a meteoric rise in tourist numbers during H1 2010," said Al Mansouri.

"Given the rapid growth of tourism in Sri Lanka, Jetwing seeks to refurbish its current properties and expand its stock of hotel room through new ventures. In respect of refurbishment, Jetwing has made a conscious effort to gradually upgrade all its properties to 4 and 5-star standards.