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Sri Lanka targets approximately 450,000 Indian arrivals for the year 2018


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Sri Lanka Tourism continued its quest to target more Indian tourist arrivals this year by participating at the South Asia Travel and Tourism Exchange 2018, which was held from 31 January to 1 February. The Sri Lankan pavilion proved to be an outstanding attraction among the rest of the stalls at the venue, with its bright, uniquely-combined colours and attractive themes. This year, SLTPB was joined by 52 leading travel agents and hoteliers of the country, showing their interest in expanding their ventures in the Indian market. The Sri Lankan delegation consisted of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs Ministry Senior Advisor Felix Rodrigo, SLTPB Managing Director Sutheash Balasubramaniam, and other senior officials, also joined by Sri Lankan High Commissioner for India Chitranganee Wagiswara, and Sri Lankan High Commission in India Minister (Commercial) Upeka Samaratunge. The Sri Lankan pavilion at SATTE 2018 was ceremoniously opened amidst a distinguished gathering. Colourful dance performances entertained the crowd while they visited the Sri Lanka pavilion to seek information, eager to find out what Sri Lanka had in store for them. It was noteworthy that most of the visitors to the pavilion comprised of top decision makers in the Indian travel industry.

SATTE 2018 proved to be an excellent investment for Sri Lanka Tourism due to the unprecedented crowds that thronged the exhibition from start to finish. Industry personnel who participated at the fair noted that productivity compared to other travel exhibitions was exceptionally high. The participation, interaction, enthusiasm, and thirst for information was clearly visible throughout the entire fair.

SLTPB focused its attention on promoting film tourism, destination weddings, MICE segments, religious and pilgrimage tourism - mostly on the Ramayana Trail, given more prominence due to high popularity among Indian tourists and devotees. A large number of Indian devotees visit Sri Lanka as the Ramayana trail and places related to Ramayana are considered sacred. Ayurveda, cultural diversity and biodiversity are some of the key attractions Indians find exciting as well. India is also a top source for MICE Tourism and SATTE 2018 was an excellent platform to access this lucrative market.

Having similar cultural, social and historical connections, going back to ancient times, has revived interest in Sri Lanka. According to a survey done by SLTPB, 63.7% of Indians opt for sightseeing excursions and 49.82% go for shopping while 41.64% prefer sea bathing and 32.74% spend hours swimming in the pool. 37.01 % Indian travellers visit historical sites in Sri Lanka while wildlife remains the top choice for 21% only. The overall experience of the Indian visitor to Sri Lanka, as per the survey, has been very delightful for 69.1% and satisfying for 30.69%. Thus, it would be right to conclude that nearly 100% Indians visiting Sri Lanka have had a good and enjoyable visit. The other important highlights of the survey show that 44.84% Indians came home with a memory of Sri Lanka being a beautiful, tropical country, 29.54% say that the people of Sri Lanka are very kind and hospitable, 24.2% talk about the pristine beaches with golden sand, while 24.2% loved the diverse attractions on this small island. Sri Lanka today takes immense pride in 30.25% Indians who knew the country well and wanted to visit again.

These statistics clearly indicate the importance of Sri Lanka as a compact destination blessed with natural resources, biodiversity, cultural heritage, pristine beaches and the amazing hospitality of its inhabitants.

Parallel to the event, a press conference was also held in New Delhi to brief the media, where 50 media houses attended the occasion. It gave SLTPB an opportunity to announce a path-breaking record of historic growth, with 384,628 arrivals from the Indian market in 2017. With this fact in mind, Sri Lanka now targets 450,000 Indian arrivals this year. Sri Lanka is growing as a destination for all seasons, having been recently awarded as the ‘Emerging destination of the year’ by Condé Nast Traveller India, and as ‘Asia’s leading tourism destination of the year’ in 2017.

On his visit to India, SLTPB Managing Director Sutheash Balasubramaniam said: ‘India continues to be our top source market. We believe that the potential of the Indian travel market is yet to realise in terms of attracting longer stay and higher spending travellers. It is our fervent hope to make Sri Lanka the most preferred destination in Asia for Indian travellers. Sri Lanka offers travellers an array of diverse product offerings and experience spread across the small island and caters to all ages.’

The impressive statistics endorse the 40% increase in Indian tourist arrivals in January this year, compared with the same period last year. Maximum advantage should be taken of this opportunity and more promotions, spending and connections should be made with Indian market. 

 


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