On June 24, Sri Lanka Consulate Mumbai in association with Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau hosted an event in Mumbai to discuss government’s strategies on boosting the island nation’s tourism following the deadly Easter attacks in April.
Among the dignitaries present at the event were John Amaratunga, tourism minister, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs of Sri Lanka; Kishu Gomes, chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau; Chamari Rodrigo – consul general, Sri Lanka Consulate; and Chinthaka Weerasinghe, regional manager, SriLankan Airlines – North India.
Here are a few highlights from the event:
The declining tourism
After the Easter attacks at churches and luxury hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka on April 21, there has been a 70 per cent decline in tourism in the month of May stated Kishu Gomes, chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau.
Arrivals from India this year are expected to be five to ten per cent lower as opposed to last year. Gomes says that the country is expecting around 2 million visitors from around the globe in 2019 as compared to 2.3 million last year.
Commenting on this subject, Gomes says,“If you look at deadly attacks and incidents around the world, some countries have taken over a year to recover fully. Here, if we predict even 2 million tourists this year, it would be approximately a 30 per cent decline in tourism, which is actually good.”
The hospitality market in Sri Lanka has also been hit because of the attacks. Gomes says “Luxury hotels have reduced their prices up to 50 per cent, and efforts are being taken to restore and regain the tourism inflow in the country.”
He is hopeful that the hospitality industry will normalise by end of 2019.
‘India is the largest source market for Sri Lanka’
Gomes addresses reporters saying that with the population of 1.35 billion, India is the biggest source market for the country. Indians on an average spend US$ 1,000 to 2,000 per travel visit followed by the US spending around US$ 700 followed by the UK with US$ 500.
“India has accounted for 18.2 per cent travellers, which is 4,24,887 arrivals in 2018, a 10.5 per cent increase from previous year. In 2017, around 3,83,000 Indians visited the destination. In 2018, this number increased to 4,26,000.”
“The primary reason of this is the growing middle-class in the country,” adds Gomes.
Chinthaka Weerasinghe, regional manager, SriLankan Airlines – North India reveals that our main market is Mumbai and Pune followed by Surat in Gujarat. Western part of India is not far behind too.
With new marketing strategies, aggressive promotional campaigns around the world, fresh discounts especially for Indian tourists and other celebratory events slated this year are aimed at reviving the industry. The Sri Lanka Tourism Authority hopes that the whole tourism is bound to comeback following withdrawal of travel security advisories by 12 countries including India.
- Sri Lanka Tourism in collaboration with SriLankan Airlines, The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) and inbound tour operators has announced attractive packages, specifically targeting India.
- The package offer includes discounted airfares, accommodation, transport and more, ranging from 30 per cent to 60 per cent. This package is unique to India and can be availed across Sri Lankan Airlines’ network covering 12 cities in India with 123 weekly flights.
- The five tour packages to Sri Lanka range from a combination of stays in Colombo, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Dambulla, Sigiriya and South Coast with multiple options to suit any budget. These offers will be valid for stays from June 10, 2019 to September 30, 2019 and can be availed through the travel agent network in India.
- Chamari Rodrigo – consul general, Sri Lanka Consulate says that the Government of India is going to resume the Air India flights to the Island nation from July 15.
- Gomes reveals that the country will be hosting a mega event in the month August expecting several well-known celebrities from across the world, including personalities like Deepika Padukone and Sachin Tendulkar. Additionally, there are 40 such events and celebrations in the field of sports, culinary, adventure, that have been planned for the coming year. (Read: a baseball tournament in July and a surfing event in August)
John Amaratunga, tourism minister, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs of Sri Lanka announces that MICE is going to be a primary focus while attracting Indians to the Island country. The ‘So Sri Lanka’ campaign also looks at promoting weddings in heritage places like Galle, provisions for film shootings, luxury hotel openings by InterContinental Hotels Group and Taj brand in Colombo, wellness especially Ayurvedic centres and biodiversity sites.
Watch out for
Chinthaka Weerasinghe, regional manager, SriLankan Airlines – North India reveals that as a part of its promotional campaigns, travellers will spot ‘So Sri Lanka’ branding on SriLankan Airlines fleet soon.