Sri Lanka’s national carrier looks at India for travel and tourism revival
Sri Lanka’s national carrier, SriLankan Airlines, is looking at India for a revival in travel and tourism, SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ashoka Pathirage has reportedly stated.
“We all are waiting for Indian traffic because it’s very critical for us. If you ask my personal perspective, we are actually counting on India. Eventually, we are going to come out of this and people are just waiting to start travelling,” Pathirage has told ETHospitalityWorld in an interview.
The report has stated that SriLankan Airlines was fighting to get the air bubble agreement with India going before the second wave unfortunately hit.
The airline had a big outreach plan and increased frequency of flights in place and was about to push for business, the Chairman has said.
According to the report, the way forward in Pathirage’s view would be vaccination. He felt that within the next two months, Sri Lanka would be able to vaccinate 40-50% of its population.
Sri Lanka already had a protocol where vaccinated tourists could enter the country after one PCR test, something which he said could come back.
He has reportedly said things will settle down and Sri Lanka will go back to the previous quarantine rule. “We will consider accepting people with a double vaccine and with one PCR test. I think it’s not only about Sri Lanka, this is global. IATA can play a bigger role in this and push for a vaccine passport,” Pathirage has been quoted as saying.
“We need to think about our strategy in terms of survival today. I think we have to navigate this period. It’s not only about that for SriLankan Airlines, it’s about how we are going to build ourselves, to make use of this opportunity down the line, and build this airline up to another level. I think we need to work towards that. In the last one-and-a-half years, we did a lot of work in terms of cutting costs and becoming a leaner organisation,” he has said, adding that as soon as they could lease their aircraft at the right market price, they could survive and make money.
“I think that we are strong. We can obviously grow to the next level. Our dream is to develop something to the level of Emirates or Qatar Airways and if the organisation is allowed to run independently without political interference, I think it can make it there,” Pathirage has told ETHospitalityWorld.
Sri Lanka and India enjoy strong bilateral and trade ties that have been further boosted by a free trade agreement (FTA). Apart from being a strong trade and development partner, India has also played a key role in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry. While there are Indian companies engaged in Sri Lanka’s hospitality industry, Indian tourist arrivals to the country have also shown high numbers until Covid 19 resulted in global travel restrictions. However, with Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is back on the path to recovery after facing the impact of the global Covid 19 pandemic opening up new business/investment opportunities. Given the strong ties between the two countries, Indian businesses/investors could confidently explore business opportunities in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry.
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