Sri Lanka received 1.9 million tourists last year with over 240,000 visiting during the month of December, statistics from Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) showed on Tuesday.

India, China, Britain, Russia and Australia were the top five markets for Sri Lanka tourism last year with Chinese tourists numbering over 167,000.

In December alone, over 16,000 tourists visited Sri Lanka from China, the SLTDA said.

"The initial projection for the year 2019 was 2.5 million tourists but it was revised due to the Easter Sunday tragedy last April," the SLTDA said in a statement.

Sri Lanka is aiming to attract two million tourists this year and 10 million tourists annually within the next five years, Tourism Minister Prasanna Rataunga said here recently.

The island country's tourism industry has emerged as one of the largest growing foreign exchange earners since the end of the civil conflict in May 2009.

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said here last week that his government will introduce a systematic program to attract more tourists this year as it is a sector that can be swiftly developed.

"This sector, which earned 4.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, has space to grow to one that can earn revenue in excess of 10 billion U.S. dollars within the next few years. We will introduce a systematic program to achieve this," President Rajapaksa said.