Tourist arrivals on upward momentum

Wednesday, 16 January 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


An exotic destination, a prime bucket-list country, low on the travel radar is now teeming with tourists. Sri Lanka’s international endorsements, leisure additions, increased connectivity has positioned her as a must-visit destination. With the advent of a new slogan, Sri Lanka continues to lure visitors for many reasons. 

The month of December in 2018 has seen a sharp incline in arrivals compared to 2017. The total number of international arrivals for 2018 was 2,333,796, which is a growth of 10.3 % compared to 2116,407 arrivals in 2017.

There were fluctuations in Sri Lanka’s source markets throughout the year yet India and China continued to be the country’s prime markets. Investment in culture, heritage and adventure offerings, has helped maintain the momentum in the market with the country leading to an increase in visitor spending during the year.

According to SLTPB, the increase is due in part to marketing campaign promoting Sri Lanka as a travel destination around the world, including the top 10 markets for Sri Lanka. The investment yielded a significant increase in the number of tourists from those countries.

Internationally acclaimed

Earlier in 2018, National Geographic voted Sri Lanka as one of those places to bask in the sun when the winters get too cold and one years for sunny days. The National Geographic cited the East coast of Sri Lanka where travellers can explore by boat. Sri Lanka continued to top the National Geographic list with Sri Lanka being voted for the Cool List of 2018. In its publication, the National Geographic listed Sri Lanka as having some of the coolest haunts, hippest hangouts, bucket list breaks and enthralling escapes. 

One of the biggest and most notable endorsements came when Lonely Planet voted Sri Lanka as the Best Travel Destination for the year 2019 last year. Sri Lanka was also adjudged winner of the 2019 judges’ award by Unilad, which is one of the most popular travel channels on Facebook. Sri Lanka received the award at the beginning of this January.

Sri Lanka was further endorsed by Travel Lemming as one of the six winning destinations for 2019 of the Travel Lemming Reader Awards. Travel Lemming is a site dedicated to promoting the world’s emerging destinations and encouraging travellers to think beyond the traditional “tourist traps”.

Travel Week of Canada also highlighted Sri Lanka as a top destination for Canadian Millennial travellers, which was another endorsement for 2019. 

Recently, Sri Lanka was also selected as one of the 10 best places to visit in 2019 by the i-escape website, which is one of UK’s leading Boutique Hotel specialists. 


Impactful Influencer program

Reaching over 35 million global travel audience through social media by creating over 700 blog articles and social media posts, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau successfully hosted 48 travel bloggers and social media influencers during the last year, in a bid to showcase Sri Lanka as a prime dream destination.

The travel bloggers, social media influencers covering various popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube were part of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau’s visiting blogger platform.

The total combined reach on virtual travel blogger platforms and popular social media hit over 11.5 million, while over 2.5 million global social media users and followers engaged with the original content created by bloggers and influencers. 

The outcome has been reflected in the renewed interest shown by tour operators and travel agents who cite that Sri Lanka remains a favoured holiday destination year after year. By hosting 48 high profile travel bloggers, influencers and social media content creators, Sri Lanka Tourism bloggers supported in creating over 700 various destination promotional content and gained a reach of 35 million with an engagement of 4.5 million. 


SLTPB hosts familiarisation tour for golfing journalists

Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) hosted a tour for golf journalists representing international publications for a unique golfing experience. The journalists were flown in from Germany and Switzerland to visit golf courses in Colombo, Hambantota, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya in a bid to create awareness of Sri Lanka’s golfing capacity. The journalists who head globally renowned publications that specialise in golf played golf in Nuwara Eliya, Hambantota, and Kandy, and visited the Royal Colombo Golf Club.


British film location managers scout for scenic spots

Reputed British film location experts including the location manager for the famous television series Game of Thrones visited Sri Lanka last year, scouring for the most scenic places for their next ventures. 

The eight-member British team was a part of lucrative location familiarisation tour with a view of encouraging the international film makers to shoot international movies in Sri Lanka based on the popularity of movies such as ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’ and ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’.


At the Big Apple

Sri Lanka Tourism made its annual contribution to the New York Times Travel Show 2018, which was held from 26 to 28 January 2018, at the Jacob Javich centre. The New York Times Travel Show is a must see occasion for all travel enthusiasts and travel industry participants.


IRONMAN lands in Sri Lanka

Taking sports tourism towards a new dimension, Sri Lanka Tourism hosted the first IRONMAN 70.3 event in Asia, as the title sponsor of the event, creating a stepping stone to promote Sports Tourism in the country and highlight Sri Lanka as a globally recognised sports destination. Over 850 triathletes from 63 countries were hosted for this mega event. 


Sri Lanka tops Lonely Planet list for 2019

Sri Lanka was named the best country in the world to visit in 2019 by Lonely Planet. Better transport links, new hotels and a growing number of activities were cited as the reason the South-Asian island was chosen for the top spot in the guidebook publisher’s annual Best in Travel awards. 

“Already notable to intrepid travellers for its mix of religions and cultures, its timeless temples, its rich and accessible wildlife, its growing surf scene and its people who defy all odds by their welcome and friendliness after decades of civil conflict, this is a country revived,” says Lonely Planet author Ethan Gelber in the Best in Travel 2019 book, which was published recently.



TIC at BIA gets facelift

In a bid to serve tourists faster and better, the 20-year-old Tourist Information Centre at the Bandaranaike International Airport operated by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau which was recently refurbished was opened to the public recently.


Colombo becomes important port of call for cruise liners

Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka for the month of November last year, have shown positive increase after a momentary slump in October with two digits being recorded so far. Adding to the existing flow of tourists was the arrival of three super luxury passenger vessels with a combined passenger occupancy of nearly 7,000. 

The super luxury passenger vessel MV Mein Schiff 3 of TUI Cruises with 2,430 passengers and 995 crew made her maiden call at the Port of Colombo on November 26. AIDAbella a cruise ship operated by AIDA Cruises ferried nearly 2,200 passengers while Princess Cruise Line, the Sapphire Princess also made a visit with 3000 tourists on board the vessel.


Sri Lanka hones in on India

Sri Lanka Tourism continued to tap into the Indian market with its participation at the SATTE India in January 2018, which is South Asia’s leading travel show. Mumbai was identified as a source place and Sri Lanka took part at the 5th edition of the India International travel and Tourism exhibition aimed at this segment. 


Sri Lanka recognised as ideal location for Europeans

Sri Lanka was recognised as an ideal holiday destination at the roadshows held in Netherlands and Belgium respectively, encouraging the Benelux counterparts to visit the island nation having a wide diversity of cultural and geographical opportunities which the ideal traveller needs for an idyllic vacation. 


Appealing to the Mediterranean charm

Sri Lanka Tourism showcased its splendour in the Mediterranean by participating at the IMTM (International Mediterranean Tourism Market) Travel Fair which was held from 6-7 February 2018 at the Tel Aviv Convention & Exhibitions Centre, Israel.


Giving Saudis more reason to visit Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Tourism highlighted its potential to promote the destination as a major tourist attraction at the Jeddah International Travel and Tourism Exhibition (JTTX-8) in Jeddah, which was held at the Convention Centre – Jeddah Hilton, from 28 February to 2 March 2018. In parallel to the main event, a roadshow was also held on 26 February 2018, which enabled Sri Lankan industry participants to showcase their products and strengthen their business partnerships with their foreign counterparts.


Sri Lanka sought after in Guangzhou, receives coveted award

Sri Lanka proved that it was a destination worth visiting by attracting the Chinese visitors with its colourful themes and beautifully decorated Sri Lanka stall, at the Guangzhou International Travel Fair (GITF) 2018, which was successfully held from 1-3 March 2018 at China Import and Export Fair Complex Guangzhou. Sri Lanka Tourism also received the ‘Most Attractive Tourist Destination Award’ at GITF 2018.


Maiden travel fair at Salon Mondial Tu Tourisme

Sri Lanka Tourism participated in the maiden B2C travel fair in the French Market, Salon Mondial du Tourisme in Paris, France which was held at Parc des Exposition, Porte De Versailles from 15-18 March 2018. Salon Mondial du Tourisme is the second largest travel show held in France annually with the participation of various tourism stakeholders from around the world.


Sri Lanka shines in Singapore

Sri Lanka was a colourful attraction at the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (NATAS) Travel fair 2018 which was held from 23-25 March at the Singapore Expo Hall, drawing attention from the visitors by its colourful and creative array of themes. NATAS is Singapore’s largest and most popular consumer travel fair, and the 2018 event was held for the 52nd time. 


Drawing in investments from Arab markets

Sri Lanka showed its prestige as a holiday and travel destination at the 24th Arabian Travel Market (ATM) which was held from 22 to 25 April 2018, at the Dubai International Exhibition Convention Centre. The event coincided with three roadshows which were held in UAE, in collaboration with the Sri Lanka consulate in Dubai. 


Sri Lanka voted most popular tourist destination in Asia at SWTF

Sri Lanka established its successful participation by receiving the award of ‘Most Popular Tourist Destination of Asia’ at the Shanghai World Travel Fair (SWTF-2018) which was held from 24 to 27 May 2018, at the Shanghai Exhibition Centre, China. 


Eastern Europe emerges as key growing market

Sri Lanka Tourism showcased its potential in promoting Sri Lanka as a tourism hotspot in Eastern Europe, by organising three successful roadshows in Poland and Hungary. They were organised in collaboration with the Sri Lanka High Commissions in Poland and Hungary.


Trade fairs supported by B2B sessions

The Spanish Travel Agents Congress (CEAV) B2B session was jointly organised by the Sri Lankan Convention Bureau (SLCB) and Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB). The congress per se was inclusive of a B2B session attended by 40 Spanish travel agents with 38 unique local travel agent companies focusing on the Spanish market.


So Sri Lanka makes a splash

Minister of Tourism and Wildlife Vasantha Senanayake unveiled new slogan and strategy for Sri Lanka Tourism at WTM in London. The new slogan ‘So Sri Lanka’ goes beyond being a place descriptor and embodies the vibrant qualities that inspire us about our travels and tales from the island nation. At the launch of the new strategy and slogan the Minister Wasantha Senanayake said that the So Sri Lanka brand is not only exhilarating – it’s the beginning of a new era.


Calling all Japanese 

Highlighting its potential to take tourism in every dimension, Sri Lanka participated at the Marine Diving fair held from 6 to 8 April 2018 in Tokyo, Japan. The colourful Sri Lanka stall depicting the water sport activities and underwater images attracted many Japanese visitors, curious to know what Sri Lanka has to offer with its pristine beaches, and many water based sports activities including whale watching, surfing, scuba diving, and snorkelling.


  Three charter flights service Sri Lankan routes

Two charter flights from Europe, namely TUI Poland, Switzerland’s Edelweiss have started servicing the Sri Lankan routes from the month of October onwards. Russia’s national carrier Aeroflot also started flights after a lapse of 10 years from the month of November 2018. 


Vigorous digital campaigns

Sri Lanka Tourism is vigorously carrying out multi-platform promotional campaigns while the digital campaign is in the final stages of evaluation process. The campaigns have focused on key international markets including Europe, Middle East, Australia, China and India respectively. SLTPB also commenced a three-month CNN global advertising campaign, to depict Sri Lanka’s identity to the world as a tourism hotspot.