Sri Lanka Tourism confident of making 2023 the best year following road shows.
Daily FT: Following a successful series of roadshows in select cities of India, the industry looks to a major boost in arrivals this winter with a host of events lined up to make 2023 the best year for Sri Lanka Tourism.
“Sri Lanka is safe, open for business, and ready to welcome travellers from around the world. We aim to reposition the country in the international arena, to accomplish the pre-COVID benchmark in 2023. To achieve this target, we have already initiated multiple initiatives, whilst a raft of plans are still in the pipeline. “I am glad we were able to make a positive impact during a short timeline and with the amazing responses received after the Indian roadshow, Sri Lanka Tourism is ambitious to make 2023 the best year,” Tourism Minister Harin Fernando told journalists.
Although the industry has set a higher target for arrivals this year at one million, Minister Fernando opined that it will be around 800,000 to 850,000, though expressing confidence in achieving the target income of $ 1.7 billion by end of 2022.
“It is always good to aim high to achieve something,” he quipped.
He said the authorities along with private sector players are ramping up collective efforts to exploit all available opportunities to boost foreign exchange earnings for a speedy economic revival. “My task is to reposition Sri Lanka as the top travel destination for the world. Participation in the London World Travel Mart next month will be another great opportunity to tell that Sri Lanka is open and ready to welcome the world.
“We amended the visa rules to accommodate long-term multiple entries, issued the fuel pass for tourists and we will soon issue the Gazette notifying the tourism zones to enable uninterrupted electricity supply to those areas. The Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera also extended his support to overcome the power crisis to a great extent by mid-November,” he added.
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.
“It is easy to criticise, but at this economic juncture, it is crucial to reposition Sri Lanka as a destination and build confidence around it to attract international travellers. We have planned an eventful December themed ‘SriLankaCan’ within Colombo city limits, with the support of the industry stakeholders to entertain the travellers coming from around the world,” he explained.
Minister Fernando insisted on grasping each opportunity during the upcoming season, as Europeans will look towards tropical countries to spend their winter holidays with the skyrocketing energy prices and make plans to boost arrivals from key Eastern European countries like Russia, Ukraine, and Poland with the resumption of Aeroflot from next Monday.
Noting that the Indian roadshow in Delhi, Mumbai, and Hyderabad was a resounding success, Fernando asserted that Sri Lanka Tourism will kick-off another series of roadshows in Chennai, Cochin, and Bangalore from 14 November.
“India remains the top source market for Sri Lanka and it was a great opportunity for us to defend the negative publicity with the top media outlets. It also helped our industry stakeholders to have B2B sessions to help foster business. India’s SpiceJet will resume services to Colombo from 15 November boosting arrivals. From next month will introduce a cruise from Pondecherry and plans are underway to collaborate with Santhigiri Ashram to establish one in Sri Lanka as well,” he said.
Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman Chalaka Gajabahu said the industry has received over 1,000 inquiries from India following the roadshow.
Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is continuing to record a steady growth, which is indicative of further growth in the next few months and the next year. Sri Lankan tourism authorities are also engaged in several programmes aimed at wooing tourists into the country. These programmes include promotional campaigns in key tourist source markets and roadshows in countries in the region, especially India. Sri Lanka has also received exposure in the international media as a must visit tourist destination as well as one of the top island destinations. All these factors indicate a growth in the tourism industry’s business potential. Given the expansion in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry foreign businesses/investors could explore the growing opportunities in the industry, especially in the leisure and hospitality sectors.
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