In an endeavour to re-introduce Sri Lanka as a tourist destination and its products to the Indian consumer, the Sri Lankan Tourism Board organised three-city roadshow which started in New Delhi, travelled to Mumbai and then concluded in Hyderabad.
Speaking at the Hyderabad roadshow, Harin Fernando, Minister for Tourism & Lands, Sri Lanka said that the country is planning to attract Indian film-makers by creating a single-window clearance approach. This will be much more convenient for those who want to shoot commercials and movies in Sri Lanka. “We would make sure that every approval is given to them within 7 days. The South Indian film industry, especially in Kerala, is very close to Sri Lanka. Recently superstar Mammootty shot his movie in our country, and there are a lot more other movies in the pipeline which are scheduled for shooting in our country. We received immense interest from Telangana producers for shooting their upcoming films in Sri Lanka. We are positive that the Indian film industry will give impetus to the tourism sector of our country.”
Film shootings in Sri Lanka had given a boost to the tourism sector in earlier years as well. When the famous movie, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom by Director Steven Spielberg was shot in 1983 in Kandy in Sri Lanka, it gave a massive spur to the country as a destination.
Emphasising the untouched natural beauty that Sri Lanka offers as a country, Fernando said, “We as a country have so many beautiful and picturesque spots that it’s not less than a studio. From National Wildlife Parks and Bird Park to surfing, our country has diverse options to offer.” The minister invited Indian filmmakers to come and explore Sri Lanka and shoot their films uninterrupted.
Chalaka Gajabahu, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, said that the roadshow will not end in Hyderabad due to the immense love and enquiries that they had received from all over the country. They are planning to continue the journey of the roadshows in of November across Bengaluru, Chennai and Cochin markets.
As a part of their promotional strategy, the country is also going to promote religious tourism. Gajabahu informed, “We are going to absolutely concentrate quite a bit on the Ramayana trail. For targeting South Indian tourists we are planning to promote Sri Dalada, Nallur and Jaffna. And to promote these destinations we are coming up with a new airport, which will soon be introduced in the Sri Lanka North. We believe that the airport is going to play a big role to tap the potential market.”
The country’s tourism board is making an effort for direct flights from India. In order to accomplish an increment in the number of flights from India, the tourism board has already had discussions with carriers such as IndiGo, Spice Jet, Vistara, and Alliance Air. A team of Sri Lankan delegations has already met the officials of the above airlines to secure flights to their country.
Thisum Jayasurya, Chairman (MICE), Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau added that as a short-term plan they are in talks with MakeMyTrip for dedicated advertising of Sri Lanka as a preferred destination. He added that they also had a discussion with Thomas Cook as a part of their short-term plan. As a long-term plan, they are in talks with MasterCard to tap prospective customers for different segments. An optimistic Gajabahu believes that Mastercard will play a huge role in targeting corporate travellers.
Gajabahu informed about the tourist target that the board is trying to achieve by saying, “2018 was the biggest year for us as the country received more than 2.3 million tourists and if the pandemic had not come then there would have been tremendous growth. Now we are targeting 2.5 million tourists. It is a positive mountain to climb. We have offerings for every category – lower middle, upper middle, and premium. As our country and its people are resilient, we are looking ahead towards a positive future.”