Sri Lanka tourism hits record high with surge in Indian visitors

India maintains position as top source market
2024-02-22
/
/ New Delhi
Sri Lanka tourism
Sri Lanka tourism hits record high with surge in Indian visitors

The Delhi event on February 20 was inaugurated by Shehan Semasinghe, State Minister of Finance, along with Kshenuka Senewiratne, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in New Delhi, Nalin Parera, Managing Director of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Krishantha Fernando, General Manager of the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau

The recovery in tourism to Sri Lanka continued to gather pace as the sector surpassed USD 2 billion in revenues in 2023, with a significant push from India. The number Indian visitors to Sri Lanka more than doubled from 13,759 in January 2023 to 34,399 in January 2024. Tapping into its top source market, Sri Lanka Tourism concluded the second leg of its inaugural business networking event in India for 2024 in New Delhi on Tuesday.
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Sri Lanka Tourism Ministry recently concluded the second leg of its inaugural Business Networking event for 2024 in India, which started in Mumbai on February 9 and concluded in New Delhi on February 20. 

In a press statement, Sri Lanka Tourism Ministry says that the events were held with an aim to strengthen ties between Sri Lanka and India. The event in Mumbai was inaugurated by Harin Fernando, Minister for Tourism, Lands, Sports, and Youth Affairs of Sri Lanka.

In attendance were also Valsan Kumaran Vethody, Consul General of Sri Lanka in Mumbai, Jyoti Mayal, President of the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), Jay Kantawala, Chairman of the Travel Agents Federation of India’s West India chapter, Thisum Jayasuriya, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, and Darshana Cabraal, a Board member of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau.

The board says that the Delhi event on February 20 was inaugurated by Shehan Semasinghe, State Minister of Finance, along with Kshenuka Senewiratne, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in New Delhi, Nalin Parera, Managing Director of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Krishantha Fernando, General Manager of the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau and Mayal of TAAI.

The board adds that through dialogues and presentations, the event highlighted Sri Lanka’s landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and warm hospitality and underlined their ‘You’ll Come Back for More’ 360-degree campaign.

The statement adds that with a renewed vigour and a shared vision for the future, Sri Lanka and India stand poised to embark on a journey of mutual prosperity and cultural exchange through tourism. Together, they weave a tapestry of experiences, inviting travellers from far and wide to discover the timeless allure of the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.

Addressing the audience in Mumbai, Fernando expressed gratitude towards India for its steadfast support in Sri Lanka’s journey of tourism development. Reflecting on the challenges faced in the past, he highlighted Sri Lanka’s remarkable transformation into a middle-income nation with robust economic indicators.

“With tourism earnings exceeding USD 2 billion in 2023 and a surge in tourist arrivals, Sri Lanka stands as a beacon of resilience in the face of adversity. Our challenging goal of attracting 2.5 million tourists in 2024 has been established is achievable based on the fact that over 48,000 tourists arrived in the first six days of February, with an average of over 9,000 tourist arrivals at Colombo daily,” says Fernando.

“I see this platform as a great opportunity for enhancing cooperation. We have witnessed a remarkable 103 pc increase in tourist arrivals from India, reflecting our strong historical ties. Recent discussions between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ranil Wickremesinghe highlighted the strength of our partnership. We appreciate India’s crucial support during economic challenges. Our vision is to strengthen connectivity and accelerate cooperation in tourism, power, trade, education, and skill development, demonstrating India’s lasting commitment to Sri Lanka,” says Senewiratne, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India.

Valsan Kumaran Vethody, Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Mumbai, echoed Minister Fernando’s sentiments, emphasising the importance of people-to-people connectivity in strengthening bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and India. With tourism serving as a bridge between cultures and communities, Vethody emphasised the need for stronger collaboration in the tourism sector to fully realise the potential of this partnership, emphasising the integration of Sri Lankan tourism into the extensive Indian tourism market.

“Tourism is our third largest revenue source, a significant achievement for our small island. Despite challenges, we have always bounced back. In 2022, we transitioned, and now offer more than just sun and beaches, with sports, culture, spiritual, historical and more. India remains our top source. Our focus is also on a digital campaign to attract the Indian market and tailored made itinerary for one and all. With Indian hotel investments, we’re confident you will want to return,’’ says Perera of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau.

“Travel agents are the backbone of promoting Sri Lanka as the ideal destination for Indian tourists. Through personalised service and tailored experiences, we create unforgettable journeys that enhance the overall visitor experience. Our role is pivotal in ensuring the sustainability and growth of Sri Lanka’s vibrant tourism industry,” says Mayal of TAAI.

The statement adds that looking ahead, Sri Lanka‘s tourism sector is poised for continued growth and innovation. Ambitious targets set for tourist arrivals, coupled with plans for new infrastructure and strategic collaborations with Indian companies, underscore Sri Lanka’s commitment to becoming a premier tourist destination in the region. Moreover, initiatives to promote sustainable tourism practices and preserve the island’s rich cultural and natural heritage are integral to the long-term success of the industry.

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