Middle East Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka rose by an unprecedented 102 per cent in the first six months of 2010 compared to the same period last year, according to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.
“Regardless of apprehensions of an unsteady global economy, Middle East’s discerning travellers are spending time and money on travel and Sri Lanka has been one of the preferred destinations of choice with a meteoric rise in tourists during the first half of 2010,” said Heba Al Mansoori, Middle East Director of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), in Dubai.
“We have just closed in on the results of the first six months of 2010 and we’re up 102 per cent as compared to H1 2009.”
“While 2009 was when the recovery process started, with the end of three decades of war, the rebound has been robust and rapid and the recovery is being driven and led by the Middle East with strong growth from key markets including the UAE up by 209 per cent, Saudi Arabia up by 96 per cent and Kuwait up by 50 per cent,” she added.
Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is resilient and the Government is sparing no efforts to revitalise the tourism industry as they recognise that tourism has a key role to play in the country’s economic recovery and stability, she said.
“Our outlook remains positive for the rest of the year as we have successfully built a relationship of trust with both regional consumers and the travel trade and will continue to reap benefits with the gradually improving economic situation,” Al Mansoori stated.
Apart from the Middle East, regions that proved to be a major source market for Sri Lanka and recorded growth in the first half of 2010 included North America (up by 70 per cent), Western Europe (up by 45 per cent), Eastern Europe (up by 22 per cent), Africa (up by 18 per cent), East Asia (up by 44 per cent), South Asia (up by 53 per cent) and Australasia (up by 44 per cent).
“We have had to adapt to the changing needs of the consumers and capitalize on trends such as late booking, increasing use of the internet to look and book by increasing Sri Lanka’s presence in the web domain regionally,” Al Mansoori said.
Al Mansoori noted that in the Middle East in particular, travelling closer and for shorter periods of time and demanding value for money, seem to have been accentuated during the post crisis period.
“The regional outbound market is evolving and inescapably requires changes as we need to know and understand consumers better to be able to market to them,” she added.
(TradeArabia News Service)