The Sri Lanka Tourism Board`S (SLTB) doubled presence at its second appearance at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) last week proved a key success for the country…
The Sri Lanka Tourism Board`S (SLTB) doubled presence at its second appearance at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) last week proved a key success for the country which has launched a new public relations campaign in the Middle East to raise its profile throughout the region.
SLTB spokesperson, Mr. George Michael, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Tourism said, ATM has proved to be a great platform to further raise awareness of Sri Lanka as an ideal getaway, with a variety of attractions from world-class beaches, beautiful green countryside and adventure opportunities to Ayurveda spas, tea plantations, precious gems and great shopping.
SLTB representative at ATM Mr Sisera Abeyratne said: As a near neighbour, ATM is the biggest and best Asian travel exhibition and networking event for Sri Lanka. In recognition of this, Sri Lanka Tourism Board has almost doubled its exhibition space at ATM this year. It is sharing its exhibition space with key industry partners including SriLankan Airlines, Aitken Spence Travels, Asian Adventures Travel Management Company, Ceylon Tours, Confifi Group Hotels, Jetwing Group, Lanka Sportreizen, Mahaweli Reach Hotel, Serendib Leisure Hotels, Siddhalepa Ayurveda Health Resort and Walkers Tours.
In cooperation with Sri Lankan Airlines, traditional dance performances were a drawcard at the ATM stand. Sri Lanka`s key Ayurvedic spa Siddhalepa also treated ATM visitors to traditional massages to show the age-old Ayurvedic approach to health and well-being.
SLTB Director General, Mr. S. Kalaiselvam, said that the increased presence at ATM was timely with a number of Middle East airlines extending services to Colombo. Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Air Arabia have all recently launched direct flights to the Sri Lankan capital.
As a part of its core tourism strategy, SLTB has set key targets. Foreign tourism exchange is expected to hit US$ 600 million with one million tourist arrivals by 2006.
The Middle East is considered one of the most important emerging markets. Sri Lanka`s new Prime Minister has reinforced this view by stating that increased economic and political ties between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka will be a priority.
The adoption of an open skies aviation policy by Sri Lanka has opened the door to a number of new Middle East airlines using Colombo as part of their regional and global route networks. Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Air Arabia have all recently launched direct flights to Colombo.
Major international carrier, Emirates, has added five new services per week between Colombo and Dubai.
Recently signed bi-lateral air services agreements between Sri Lanka and Kuwait and Sri Lanka and Qatar will further raise the number of flights between the Middle East and Colombo to meet increasing demand.
What Sri Lanka offers the Arab traveller:
Sri Lanka is less than a five hour flight from much of the Middle East with an increasing number of direct flights providing even more reason for people to travel.
Sri Lanka offers a well-rounded holiday. Not only is it a `green respite` from the city and desert landscape, the country offers a rich history and culture. It also offers a very Muslim-friendly atmosphere and synergies due to its historic Arabic links. Mosques are located throughout the country. Halal food is widely available and Sri Lanka has a reputation worldwide for its friendly people.
Luxury resorts and exclusive retreats as well as unique nature and adventure experiences are also on offer, making it an exciting and different travel destination for our near neighbours from the Middle East.
Aside from the ever-important ATM and other international trade events, Sri Lanka will be the venue for several important tourism related events over the next few months.
In May, the SLTB will host a meeting of tourism officials of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). In July, the World Tourism Organisation Commission for South Asia will meet in Sri Lanka; the meeting will be attended by Mr David J. De Villiers, Deputy Secretary General of the WTO.
In October, tour operators from all over the world will be invited to Sri Lanka to meet with Sri Lankan tourist industry representatives at the SLTB sponsored Gateway to South Asia, an international travel mart focussed on the best tourism offerings of Sri Lanka.
Two events aimed at significantly raising the profile of Sri Lanka as an unique tourist destination are scheduled for October and November; the first is the French Vittel Adventure Marathon which will highlight the potential of Sri Lanka for adventure sports and the second is the Festival of Drums, a world class music festival featuring some of the world`s best percussion artists.
Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales. She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.