Indian travel agents are expecting a spike in demand for Sri Lanka in the coming months, especially as collaborative destination marketing efforts get underway with Sri Lankan tourism players.
Daniel D’Souza, president & country head – holidays, SOTC Travel said: “The island nation is a favourite with Indian consumers owing to its easy access and delightful diversity, and we are witnessing a gradual return of customer confidence. We are confident that strategic marketing and promotion efforts from the Sri Lankan authorities will provide Indian travellers with the much-needed assurance, and thus boost demand.”
With 80,132 tourist arrivals for the period January to August this year, India is the top source market for Sri Lanka followed by the UK with 65,555 tourist arrivals for the same period.
“We look forward to working closely with the tourism board, airlines and other stakeholders to build positivity and confidence across our India market segments of leisure, corporate and MICE and revive demand,” said Rajeev Kale – president & country head, holidays, MICE, Visa – Thomas Cook (India).
Kale added that they have also introduced special offers for the coming festive season to attract Indian travellers to the island destination.
Sri Lanka Tourism on its part has been working to regain the confidence of the Indian travel trade and consumers. The tourism board embarked on a three-city roadshow beginning with New Delhi (September 26) and followed by Mumbai (September 28) and Hyderabad (September 30).
A delegation of over 50 suppliers including DMCs and hotels are participating in the series, led by tourism minister Harin Fernando, and accompanied by Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau’s chairman Chalaka Gajabahu and Sri Lanka Conventions Bureau’s chairman Thisum Jayasuriya.
To spur demand, the tourism board will roll out special travel packages and joint promotions with partners including Indigo Airlines, Air India and MakeMyTrip.com, as well as organise major events to draw the attention of international tourists. There are also plans to promote new segments, such as golf tourism.
Fernando is confident that international arrivals will recover beginning next year, and emphasised that there is now no more shortage of fuel or electricity in the country.
Sri Lanka had agreed to a conditional US$2.9 billion bailout with International Monetary Fund negotiators earlier this month, and president Ranil Wickremesinghe is presently in Japan to see the possibility of reaching an agreement to restructure the nation’s debt.