Travel and tourism continues to grow after the civil war
Since the end of civil war in Sri Lanka in May 2009, there has been an exponential increase in tourists since the government was successful in portraying a positive image of the country. Arrivals from the US, Canada, Germany, Australia and Japan increased considerably in 2012 while the UK and India remained the leading source markets for Sri Lanka. Furthermore, efforts to improve transportation and travel accommodation facilities in Sri Lanka have been quite successful, as a result of which tourists are generally more satisfied with their stay and positive word of mouth is spread.
Global image improves
Sri Lanka’s tourist board, along with the government, has been able to promote Sri Lanka as a tourism destination and slowly remove the label of terrorism left by the civil war. Social media is utilised to its potential in order to market Sri Lankan tourism while a number of promotional seminars have also taken place. In 2012, SriLankan Airlines Ltd along with the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau organised a tour for the leading travel and tourism agents in India (Thomas Cook, TUI, Cox & Kings, Make My Trip and Akbar Holidays) to understand what the island destination has to offer their potential customers.
National tourist board strategy
Sri Lanka’s tourist board has been very proactive in its promotional campaigns. It has made efforts to present Sri Lanka as a stable, peaceful and exotic destination open to tourists from all over the world. The country declared 2011 as ‘Visit Sri Lanka’ year as it co-hosted the Cricket World Cup in February-April 2011 while similar efforts were also made in 2012. Most of the promotion was done through digital media as information was made available over the internet while a number of seminars were held by the Sri Lankan tourist board in an attempt to increase international arrivals further. In 2012, leading travel agents from India were invited to Sri Lanka for education on what the country has to offer, while in the same year the ‘China International Travel Mart 2012’ was organised in Shanghai and the ‘Chengdu International Travel Fair 2012’ was held in Chengdu where Sri Lanka could be promoted as a tourist destination to the Chinese.
Increase in flight connectivity drives growth
Mihin Lanka (pvt) Ltd inaugurated its seventh international service on 7 December 2012 from Colombo with the launch of three daily flights on the route to Madurai in Tamil Nadu. In addition, SriLankan Airlines Ltd expanded its service to Moscow and relaunched its service to Zurich in 2012. SriLankan Airlines Ltd covers 60 cities in 32 countries becoming the largest foreign carrier to the Maldives. Airports, on the other hand, are also being expanded to facilitate air traffic. The new Hambantota International Airport is expected to expand to serve five million passengers a year by the end of 2028. The airport was declared open in March 2013. The first phase of construction at the airport site started in November 2009. With its opening, congestion will be avoided at Bandaranaike International Airport by the diversion of air traffic. Bandaranaike International Airport itself is also undergoing an expansion and development programme to be completed by end of 2015
Government plays a proactive role
The travel and tourism industry in Sri Lanka has great potential for growth and the government intends to continue its long-term support in order to project it as one of the leading foreign exchange earners in Sri Lanka’s economy. The tourism board has immense support from the government while foreign investment is encouraged by means of lenient lease contracts for hotels and other travel accommodation. Furthermore, all relevant areas of travel and tourism, such as transportation, travel accommodation and car rental, are being encouraged to provide international-standard facilities to their customers. The government opened a number of investment schemes in 2012 whereby the private sector, foreseeing the potential in Sri Lankan travel and tourism, has a vital role to play.
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The Travel and Tourism in Sri Lanka market research report includes:
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