Jaffna-Chennai direct flights resume post-pandemic.
Daily FT: India and Sri Lanka now witness the restoration of a significant connectivity with the resumption of direct flights between Chennai and Jaffna.
Alliance Air, a wholly owned subsidiary of AIAHL resumed its direct services connecting Chennai and Jaffna, after nearly three-year pandemic-caused break.
“India remains the top source market year-to-date for Sri Lanka and the resumption of Chennai and Jaffna direct flights will indeed be a big boost to draw more travellers from the neighbouring giant,” Tourism Minister Harin Fernando told the Daily FT.
As per the provisional data by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, India remains strong as the top tourist source market for year-to-date with a cumulative number of arrivals at 110,077.
The airline is all set to expand globally and commence commercial flight operations from Jaffna International Airport to Chennai International Airport with direct flight operations on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
“Jaffna is one of the most beautiful towns located right on the northern tip of Sri Lanka. Jaffna is known for its predominant Tamil population and recognised as the cultural capital for Tamilians in Sri Lanka. The hospitality of the locals will surely impress any tourist to this place.
“They are just not wonderful people but are friendly too. If you are looking for a destination which offers beauty and great hospitality to travellers, then Jaffna should be in your travel plan,” the airline said last week.
The Palaly airport was reopened as Jaffna International Airport on 11 November 2019, following the completion of the redevelopment project, with the support of India. However, its operational activities were suspended from 15 March 2020 again, as a result of the COVID–pandemic.
At present, the JIA runway can only accommodate 75-seater flights and it is learned that the runway is expected to be redeveloped to accommodate larger aircrafts in future.
Being an island nation, Minister Fernando emphasised it was important to prioritise the tourism industry and change the overall attitude to develop the sector, as the third largest foreign exchange earner for the overall economy.
“My task is to reposition Sri Lanka as the top travel destination. Grasping each opportunity during the season, is a must. Europeans are looking at tropical countries to spend their winter holidays to avoid the skyrocketing energy prices and severe cold. We are collectively ramping up efforts to exploit all available opportunities to boost foreign exchange earnings for a speedy economic revival,” the Minister said.
Sri Lanka has welcomed 25,024 tourists during the first 11-days of the month, pushing the YTD figure to 653,041.
Sri Lanka and India enjoy strong bilateral and trade ties that have been further enhanced by an operational free trade agreement (FTA). The resumption of direct flights between Sri Lanka’s northern province and India would open up new opportunities for businesses/investors both in Sri Lanka and India. Indian businesses could now gain quick and easy access to Sri Lanka through the Northern Province, which in turn would help boost Sri Lanka’s trade and tourism sectors. Sri Lanka’s geographical positioning in the Indian Ocean and the many trade agreements as well as trade concessions enjoyed by the country have also helped boost Sri Lanka’s image as an emerging business destination in the South Asian region. Given the resilient economy and the expanding opportunities, Indian business/investors could explore the growing opportunities in Sri Lanka. Also, other foreign businesses interested in doing business with India could look at setting up base in Sri Lanka to engage with India using the preferential treatment enjoyed by Sri Lanka when dealing with its neighbour.
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