As part of its ongoing bilateral and cultural ties with its Indian counterparts, Sri Lanka Tourism organised a series of road shows in key South Indian cities of Chennai, Kochi and Bengaluru last month. These roadshows were conducted with an aim to promote the destinations and tourism products of the island nation to reach the target of 2 million travellers by end 2023.
A delegation of over 30 Sri Lankan travel agencies and hotels participated at this event. The delegation was led by the Hon. Harin Fernando, Minister of Tourism and accompanied by Chalaka Gajabahu, Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and Thisum Jayasuriya, Chairman Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, Shirani Herth, Junior Manager, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) and Malkanthi Welikla, Manager – Marketing, Sri Lanka Convention Bureau.
Hon. Harin Fernando, Minister of Tourism, said, “Sri Lanka is experiencing a significant rise in tourist arrivals, particularly from India, which has now secured the top spot. In the first three months of 2023, we welcomed 46,432 Indian tourists. With an ambitious promotional campaign underway, we are aiming to attract 2 million Indian tourists this year. This increase in visitors has had a positive impact on tourism earnings, with Sri Lanka earning around 530 million U.S. dollars in the first quarter of 2023, compared to USD 482.3 million in the same period last year. We expect to generate a total of USD 3 billion in tourism revenue this year.”
He added, “Sri Lanka values the Indian outbound market since it has been instrumental in driving tourism to our country. The country features a varied range of attractions and offerings, including wellness and yoga, beaches, shopping, cuisine, adventure, and wildlife, in addition to its extensive legacy dating back 2500 years. Furthermore, the Ramayana circuit, a religious travel initiative, is a strong draw for the Indian market. As a result, this is an excellent time to experience the wonderful hospitality of the Sri Lankan people.”
During the Roadshows, Hon. Minister of Tourism met several high-profile business leaders, investors, tourism stakeholders and corporates while engaging in several media interviews with leading Indian media houses.
Chalaka Gajabahu, Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, said, “Sri Lanka is an ideal destination for families and is suitable for travel throughout the year. The country is currently engaging with the travel industry in India to reinforce its position as a preferred travel destination. Through our representatives and stakeholders from hotels, resorts, destination management companies, and event management companies, we aim to build a strong relationship with our travel-trade partners in India and foster a mutually beneficial association.”
Thisum Jayasuriya, Chairman Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, said, “Sri Lanka is quickly becoming a popular destination for meetings, conferences, and incentives, also known as MICE. To showcase this promising destination, we hosted the first-ever MICE expo in Sri Lanka in March 2023. We were excited to welcome 80 participants from India alone. Sri Lanka’s proximity and excellent connectivity make it an attractive and cost-effective option for MICE travellers.”