Sri Lanka Tourism concludes successful roadshows and food and cultural event in Australia

Wednesday, 13 December 2017 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

With a growing focus on the Australian market, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) concluded a series of events that kept Australia interested an entire week, which commenced from 20 November. 

It proved to be a series of successful roadshows held in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney, attracting a large number of visitors in each city along with a Food & Cultural Event which was held in Sydney, Darling Harbour.  

Australia is famous for having one of the highest expenditures on travel per capita globally and is only just beginning to realise the potential of Sri Lanka as a tourism hotspot. This brings with it tremendous opportunity for Sri Lanka’s tourism economy. 

Perth roadshow

Beginning in the Western Australia capital of Perth the first of the travel trade roadshows went off with a bang which started on Monday, 20 November, at Novotel Hotel.  Over 100 members from the travel industry, including representatives from Australian travel agents and wholesalers met with Sri Lankan hoteliers, tour operators and tourism officials for a series of B2B meetings.

Addressing the delegation, SLTPB’s Director of Marketing Madubhani Perera said that Australia has delivered an 8% increase arrivals to Sri Lanka for the year ending October 2017. The roadshows in Australia is just one of the strategies that SLTPB is leveraging to increase awareness in Australia. 

Well-known journalist and deputy editor of Travel Talk Magazine, Jessica Zoiti said, “I’ve catapulted Sri Lanka to the top of my bucket list of places to visit.”

The event, held at the Novotel hotel in Perth’s central business district, also featured a key note address from Rosh Jalagge, Honorary Consul General for Sri Lanka in Perth, where he emphasised the importance of tapping the Australian market. 

Guests were treated to dinner after two hours’ worth of intensive B2B meetings between Australian and Sri Lankan travel industry partners and some lucky Australian participants even won a range of fully hosted fact-finding trips to Sri Lanka. 

Travel agents from Sri Lanka were able to connect with their Australian counterparts and share and strengthen their industrial ties, also building new connections. 

Melbourne roadshow 

The Melbourne roadshow was held on 23 November with the presence of W.G.S. Prasanna, Consul General for Sri Lanka in Melbourne.  Andrew Fairly, former Vice Chair of Tourism Australia, graced the occasion and expressed his views on Sri Lanka as a tourist destination and the support that the Australian Government will extend towards Sri Lanka. 

The event attracted more than 150 members from the travel industry, including representatives from Australian travel agents and wholesalers who met with Sri Lankan hoteliers, tour operators and tourism officials for a series of B2B meetings. 

A positive response has been forthcoming with key Sri Lankan travel professionals such as Pledge Holidays Managing Director Eshan Pathirana heralding its success. 

Golden Isle’s Managing Director Paddy Paul said, “We are targeting high end agents for tours and FIT. There is a market here in Australia. I was here last year and Sri Lanka has been marketed quite well. There is potential.”

The event was held at the auspicious Hotel Windsor in Melbourne and attracted a range of Australia’s major travel companies and attendees who were treated to sumptuous Sri Lankan cuisine. 

The keynote presentation on the destination was delivered by SLTPB’s Marketing Director, enlightening the Australian travel trade on Sri Lanka tourism product.

A raffle draw was held to win flights sponsored by Srilankan airlines and Singapore Airlines along with packages offered by Sri Lankan travel trade to visit Sri Lanka. 

The Australian travel community flocked to the event in large numbers as interest from consumers continues to grow with one eminent travel agent, Joanna Koffman from Helloworld Toorak commenting, “I just got my first booking for Sri Lanka in January 2018.  That›s why I›m here tonight, to ascertain the level of product.”

Sydney roadshow

The Sydney roadshow was held on 27 November and attracted nearly 170 travel agents, media, wholesalers and television celebrities to the glamorous Hyatt Regency in Sydney. Lal Wickrematunge, Consul General for Sri Lanka in Sydney, delivered the welcome speech on the occasion. 

Travel agents also won a wealth of travel stays in Sri Lanka along with flights courtesy of Sri Lankan Airlines and Singapore Airlines.

The event, which attracted a range of Australia’s major travel companies such as Flight Centre, Helloworld, Travel Managers and more offered attendees the chance to sample sumptuous Sri Lankan cuisine, as well as learn more about the destination with a keynote presentation from SLTPB’s Perera. 

Commenting on the event, Perera mentioned: “Australia is now a very important market for us. We will be targeting more marketing activity at the nation, which has one of the highest rates of expenditure per capita on travel in the world.”

“The has been significant growth in the number of Australian travellers arriving in Sri Lanka, we are working hard to ensure that this rapid growth continues for years to come and we are investing in order to make sure this happens.”

Australian travel agents and wholesalers met with Sri Lankan hoteliers, tour operators and tourism officials for a series of B2B meetings.

Food and cultural festival 

The food and cultural festival, which ran between Saturday 25 November and Sunday 26 November in Sydney, attracted more than 10,000 of the travelling public over the two-day festival. 

Occupying one of Sydney’s most famous Darling Harbour, the outdoor event which was free to attend, showcased srilankan food, tea, handicrafts, gems and jewellery, batik clothing and painting from Sri Lanka. 

During the event there was a variety of entertainment such as different competitions, raffle draws, cultural performances were on stage to keep the crowd entertained throughout the whole event. 

The opening ceremony of the consumer event was graced by Members of Parliament of New South Wales, including Dr. Hugh McDermott, Kevin Conolly, and Damien Tudehope. Wickrematunge delivered the welcome speech. 

Srilankan travel companies were also in attendance at the event that was designed to showcase Sri Lanka as a top destination for Australian travellers to visit, and were serving the inquiries made by the public. 

Asia’s most exciting destination

The event was a culmination of work between the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) and the Sri Lankan Consulate in Sydney and continues both organisations’ focus on Australia as a key market for growth in tourism numbers.

At this event, Sri Lanka was showcased as Asia’s most exciting destination. 

The event was presented by famous television presenter, David Whitehill who works on Australia’s leading travel show, Getaway, on channel 9.  Meanwhile in attendance was Hugh Riminton, one of Australia’s foremost news reporters from Channel 10, who was born in Sri Lanka and came to the event to network with attendees and encourage them to visit the destination. 

Guests were also treated to Sri Lankan dance performances from the Chandana Wickramasinghe Dancers Guild which was flown in from Sri Lanka to perform a mix of fusion and traditional dance that delighted the crowds. 

Nancy Hromin of Bondi Beach, a local, commented: “The performers and the food have been incredible. I knew very little about Sri Lanka other than the conflict, but I visited the festival because some of my friends rave about the food. Now I know it’s a place I must travel to this year.”

Continuing further, Hromin said, “I’ve talked to some travel companies and I will be heading over there for a family holiday in March. I can’t wait to see the leopards and tea plantations.”

The events which took place showcased Sri Lanka Tourism’s effort in attracting the Australian market and enabling more high spending Australian tourists to visit the island nation to have the perfect holiday of their choice, and have a different experience. Adding to these efforts, the recent Virtuoso Luxe report of Australia has revealed Sri Lanka among the first five most popular global destinations for the Australian traveller to visit in 2018.