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Sri Lanka to look at new packages to woo FIFA World Cup fans from Qatar.

Sri Lanka to look at new packages to woo FIFA World Cup fans from Qatar.

The Morning: The Ministry of Tourism is to announce travel and tour packages to attract the spectators of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which is to kick off on 20 November in Qatar, The Morning Business learnt.
Speaking to The Morning Business, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) Chairman Chalaka Gajabahu stated: “We are going to create a social media advertisement for packages for the FIFA World Cup that includes Sri Lanka as a destination.”
Gajabahu said that the social media campaign will advertise packages to be offered to football spectators who visit the island between matches. Accordingly, the Ministry of Tourism along with SriLankan Airlines, Fly Dubai, and Qatar Airways are working to provide these packages: “It will be the air ticket, through a partnership with the three airlines, plus the hotel package. The hotel can be three-, four-, or five-star; they have the option.”
When The Morning Business inquired about the feasibility in attracting FIFA spectators to the country when there are nearby countries that would appear more appealing amidst the country’s international image with the economic crisis, Gajabahu responded: “I do not know of any packages that have been created by our neighboring countries, to my knowledge,” noting that they are working towards clearing the negative image the country may have developed. For instance, he said, the issue of queues for petrol has been overcome via measures such as the tourist fuel pass, which can be obtained at any Sampath Bank, allowing visitors to pump fuel from affiliated petrol stations islandwide.
Similarly, Minister of Tourism and Lands Harin Fernando had said that Sri Lanka aims to attract football fans from the FIFA World Cup between matches, as Qatar expects to host 80,000 spectators for the month-long tournament, but only has 40,000 hotel rooms available.
Gajabahu further stated that Minister Fernando has been able to contact Argentina in this regard.
The subject minister on Friday (7) on his official Twitter handle said that he had met hotel owners in Negombo in order to discuss a special package “for FIFA World Cup visitors to come to Sri Lanka between match days to enjoy Sri Lankan hospitality, as it would be less expensive than staying in the host cities”.
With Qatar Airways, a return flight ticket from Doha to Colombo ranges between Qatari Riyal (QAR) 890 and QAR 2, 250 (equivalent to Rs. 89,552-226,398 as per the exchange rate on 10 October), while a return ticket from Mumbai from Doha ranges from QAR 1, 080-6,200.
Although the SLTPB Chair noted that he could not reveal the exact details of the budget for the promotion programme, he said that the aforesaid social media campaign is to be partially funded by the Ministry of Tourism, while the remainder is to be provided by tourism industry stakeholders in the country.
Responding to the query made by The Morning Business as to whether this programme will hinder the tourists that come to Sri Lanka during their winter/holiday season, SLTPB Chair said that this programme for football fans is limited within Negombo “football zone”, while a separate programme is to be placed for the tourists who arrive the island during the season.
He also expressed his optimism over tourist arrivals for the holiday season, as there is an ongoing energy crisis in European countries that would lead Europeans to travel to warmer destinations, creating an opportunity for Sri Lanka.
When contacted in this regard, The Hotel Association of Sri lanka (THASL) President M. Santhikumar expressed that the cost of the stay is the factor that makes Sri Lanka the ideal destination for football fans visiting Qatar.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) President Nishad Wijetunga told The Morning Business that the FIFA World Cup fans will mostly be from Europe and South America. As per the schedules, the fans will have three to four days between games involving their home countries, and as such, they may not want to remain in a region that would be quite costly during such breaks.
“Sri Lanka is just four hours away from Qatar, and by creating an exclusive FIFA zone on the beach, we will be able to entice them here to have a fun time during the free days, at a reasonable price. Therefore we see it as a feasible option.”

OSL take:

Sri Lanka’s tourism authorities are continuing to look at innovative promotions to woo tourists to the country. Tourist arrivals to the country are also on a growth path as after facing challenges posed by the pandemic and the economic crisis that followed after. Sri Lanka has also received exposure in the international media as a must visit tourist destination as well as one of the top 10 island destinations. All these and the promotional packages being pushed among key tourist source markets have increased interest among foreign travelers to the country. The appreciation of the US dollar in Sri Lanka has also added to the country’s attraction as a tourist destination that offers value for money. Identifying the growing business potential in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, especially in the leisure and hospitality sectors, foreign leisure and hospitality brands have expressed interest in entering the industry. Foreign businesses/investors could therefore explore the expanding opportunities in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, especially in the leisure and hospitality sectors.

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Article Code : VBS/AT/21102022/X_1

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