In 2017, Sri Lanka received a total of 107,635 tourists from the Middle East region with 6.5 per cent growth with UAE as one of the fastest growing tourism market from the region. Currently, there are 70 direct flight services a week connecting UAE to Sri Lanka.
A delegation of 51 Sri Lankabased tourism and hospitality companies visited Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai to develop the country’s tourist arrivals. As part of their participation at this year’s ATM, a press conference was attended by John Amaratunga, Sri Lankan Minister of Tourism; Felix Srimal Rodrigo, Advisor to Minister; L Madiwela, Media Secretary to Minister; Mohan De Silva, Ministry of Tourism; HE Charitha Yattagoda, Sri Lankan Consul General–Dubai; Sutheash Balasubramaniam, Managing Director, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau; Ajantha Rathnayake, Assistant Director, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau; Sasanga Gunathilaka, Assistant Director, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and Meriyan Warnakulasuriya, Management Assistant, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and members of GCC media.
Amaratunga stated, “Sri Lanka has much to offer visitors from the region with our distinctive, adventure-packed, eco-friendly, family-focused experiences and offerings, as well as our rich nature, heritage and culture, year-round schedule of festivals and special events, numerous parks and ecocentres, luxury resorts and wellness centres, romantic settings for honeymooners and couples. Our mission has done much to put Sri Lanka on the map and in the hearts and minds of Middle East-based travel partners. In combination with future promotions planned for the country, I’m confident we will witness many more visitors from the region making Sri Lanka their next holiday destination of choice in the coming months.”
He further reiterated that the ministry will be pursuing a digital advertising campaign to ensure more tourists to the destination as technology has taken over the traditional forms of advertising. Yattagoda stated, “We have witnessed a very good growth of tourists from the Middle Eastern region, a 6.5 per cent increase from last year. We hope that it will further increase in our efforts as just before ATM, we organised several roadshows in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah so that more agents are aware of the diversity of our country. Over 70 flights fly in a week to Sri Lanka from Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. We work together with the Sri Lanka tourism board and have planned many activities for both locals and expats living in the UAE.”