SriLankan Airlines CEO Richard Nuttall at the media briefing yesterday with Head of Worldwide Sales and Distribution Dimuthu Tennakoon (right) and Manager Corporate Communications Deepal Perera – Pic by Sameera Wijesinghe
- Successfully concludes first-ever Global Sales Conference in Sri Lanka drawing 170 international travel industry representatives
SriLankan Airlines said yesterday it expects an on-target performance this winter and beyond spurred by the positive feedback from its first-ever Global Sales Conference held in Sri Lanka last week drawing 170 travel industry representatives from over 40 countries.
Via a four-day engagement including a day conference, SriLankan Airlines along with local industry partners showcased the country’s readiness for tourism.
SriLankan said the conference drew the largest contingent from the international travel trade to Sri Lanka in recent history. The assemblage experienced Sri Lanka’s top-rated tourist attractions first-hand before convening in Sigiriya to learn about the outlook of Sri Lanka as a destination that is not just magnificent, but safe and more than ready to receive global travellers to its shores.
“The feedback was very positive and the event was a success in erasing the bad press the country received in recent past owing to the economic crisis and that Sri Lanka remains a safe and fascinating place to visit,” the national carrier’s CEO Richard Nuttall told journalists yesterday.
“The numbers look promising,” he said, adding that forecast load factor during December and January was over 80%. SriLankan Airlines currently offers passenger services to 114 destinations in 60 countries through online and codeshare operations.
SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ashok Pathirage said: “SriLankan Airlines has done it once again, by taking the initiative and laying the groundwork to accelerate the recovery and growth of Sri Lanka’s tourism industry. I am certain that the synergism created in the last few days will contribute towards realising the national vision to transform Sri Lanka into a high-value destination in the years ahead.”
Head of Worldwide Sales and Distribution Dimuthu Tennakoon said: “Our main intent is to draw more visitors to Sri Lanka, and this occasion will undoubtedly help drive this cause and realise our performance objectives.”
He thanked all the different teams at SriLankan Airlines that worked tirelessly to make this conference the resounding success that it turned out to be. “There have been good signs of progress in the revival of tourism in Sri Lanka after a challenging period, and the discussions and opportunities that spun off of this conference between the various industry stakeholders, will only serve to increase the number of tourists visiting Sri Lanka,” Tennakoon added.
SriLankan quoted India's Anta Travels General Manager Kumar Vellore Jagadeesan as saying: “Throughout our stay in Sri Lanka, we were overwhelmed by the hospitality and care that were extended to us. This is what makes Sri Lanka stand apart from the rest; the inherent caring ways of its people that make a traveller wish that his holiday never ends.”
Pakistan Executive Aviation Head of Business Development Kanwal Faizal Zia was quoted as saying: “It did not take long for me to realise that irrespective of what is being said and spoken about Sri Lanka in the media, the country is absolutely beautiful and safe. Now, I want to come back every year. I am sure once you explore Sri Lanka, you will feel it too.”
Foreign General Sales Agents of the national carrier and SriLankan Holidays’ Franchise Operators also participated in addition to travel trade industry representatives. A thoughtfully designed sightseeing tour preceded the conference, with visitors taking in highlights such as the Yala National Park; Ella; Kandy; Galle; Beruwala; Sigiriya; Nuwara Eliya; Habarana; Polonnaruwa; Anuradhapura; Ritigala; Negombo; and Colombo.
Fresh off the tour, the group joined the main conference on 18 November 2022 at the Aliya Resort, where they were given an opportunity to share positive experiences of the tour with the audience. They also engaged with several interactive sessions led by officials of SriLankan Airlines and industry experts. Sessions included a history on SriLankan Airlines; Sri Lanka’s status as a destination for transformative travel; and the premier of destination video, ‘Around the Island’.
Eminent guest speakers, Raid Amazones Founder Alexandre Debanne and Piyush Minocha, a Sr. Business Development Manager of the Expedia Group, spoke on marketing Sri Lanka to French travellers and Sri Lanka’s potential for sustainable tourism, respectively.
The conference wrapped up with a panel discussion involving CEO Richard Nuttall, and Head of Worldwide Sales and Distribution Dimuthu Tennakoon and Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman Chalaka Gajabahu and moderated by John Keells Group Leisure sector Senior Vice President – Global Alliances and Partnerships Dileep Mudadeniya.
A special feature of the conference was the Sri Lankan craft fair that was held at the venue, exhibiting traditional arts and crafts of local artisans. The global travel trade audience was thus introduced to cultural crafts of the island such as making pottery, drums, brassware, ethnic jewellery and wooden masks.
Further, for the first time in the history of Sri Lanka, a travel mart inspired by leading global travel events such as the World Travel Market (WTM) in London and ITB Berlin, was organised on the day following the conference. The travel mart afforded a priceless opportunity for local destination management companies and tour operators to meet and explore commercial opportunities with the visiting foreign travel agents.