Air France announces resumption of flights to Colombo in November
Air France has reportedly announced the recommencement of ‘Colombo-Male’ flights thrice a week from November this year. The move has been welcomed by the travel and tourism industry while urging the authorities to maximise its benefits to Sri Lanka, according to local media reports.
“At a time when the world is experiencing a 90% downturn in international tourism, giant airline operator Air France considering to operate to Colombo and Malé shows the confidence they have in the Sri Lanka and Maldives combination,” Connaissance De Ceylan Chairman Chandra Wickramasinghe has told the Daily FT.
According to reports, France is the fifth biggest tourism source market for Sri Lanka and resumption of flights, first time since the 1980s confirms the French national carrier’s attraction to and confidence in Sri Lanka.
During 2018/19 Sri Lanka had received over 100,000 tourists from France, all having minimum stays of eight nights earning considerable foreign exchange for the country. Aviation connections between the two countries commenced in 1968 with UTA French airline flights operating the Colombo-Muscat-Colombo sector. It worked well for many years till 1985, Wickramarasinghe has further stated.
“We have to understand the significance of a national carrier of a major source market commencing operations from a specific destination. It gives a huge boost to the destination. With Air France having a network of over 200 offices across the world, this initiative will lead to all of them actively marketing the Sri Lanka-Maldives combination. This announcement itself is worth millions of dollars of publicity. Hope our authorities will understand the value of this venture and make maximum use of the same,” Wickramasinghe has been quoted as saying.
“We hope the Sri Lankan Government, Sri Lanka Tourism and the Civil Aviation Authority will give their fullest support to make use of this travel gate to maximise French travel to Sri Lanka. If we don’t proactively act on this, Maldives will get the full allotment disembarking at Malé,” he has noted.
“Sri Lanka Tourism must make use of this opportunity and launch a support program for French tour operators through their counterparts in Sri Lanka. They should think out of the box and come up with aggressive marketing programs to promote Sri Lanka as a destination. If not, Maldives will surely make maximum use of the new service,” Wickramasinghe has added.
According to him, the French market is one of the most diversified with segmented markets such as general tour operating, FIT, A La Carte operations, Comité d’Entreprise groups, incentive groups, adventure groups, etc. which have the potential to attract many French tourists to Sri Lanka.
Many international airlines operate flights to Sri Lanka since it’s borders were re-opened early this year and have also increased flights operated to the island. Sri Lanka has been listed as a must visit destination by several leading global travel publications and the country’s airports have also received global safety and hygiene certifications making the island an attractive destination in post Covid travel. Also, business travellers to Sri Lanka are also on the increase with the island fast becoming a business hub in the South Asian region. Foreign businesses/investors could therefore explore business/ investment opportunities in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry.
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