Sri Lanka is going all out to attract travellers from the Middle East and reveal to them the charm of the land they call Paradise.
People living in the Gulf are familiar with Sri Lankans who comprise a large portion of the expatriate workforce.
But they know very little of the Indian Ocean island and the natural beauty it offers.
SriLankan Airlines is now taking the lead to bring more Gulf travellers to the country by launching a major campaign.
“We have a new programme for the next 12 months to bring more Gulf travellers to Sri Lanka,” says SriLankan Airlines chief commercial officer Barry Brown. “A manager has also been appointed to look into the matter. We are going through surveys and other essentials to tap the potential from the Gulf. As part of this drive, we are also increasing our flights out of Bahrain from two to four per week.”
Effective from October 2006, SriLankan Airlines will have two direct flights out of Bahrain and two with a stopover at Doha.
The flights will be on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and will connect to all Indian points via Colombo like Calicut, Trivandarum, Madras, Hydarabad, Balgalore, Trichy, Mumbai, Delhi and Cochin.
The flights also connects to Far East points via Colombo like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Beijing.
Brown said family holiday packages will be most suited to Gulf travellers.
“Sri Lanka can offer family packages which are ideal,” he says. “We can offer them the rich Sri Lankan culture or take them on a safari, or let them enjoy the wonderful beaches. We will also ensure that they get halal food wherever they go. An air taxi service will be offered to visit hill stations like Nuwara Ilya. This will cut travel time.”
Brown says the peace talks between the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE has also helped to boost tourism. “The peace which is prevailing will help us plan better. The island is facing better times now. The tsunami disaster in December 2004 devastated the country and struck a major blow to the tourism industry.
“But Sri Lanka is recovering from that. Many hotels were also destroyed. But on a positive note, they got a chance to refurbish their property. New investments have also started pouring in. This will have a positive impact on the country as a whole,” says Brown.
By Babu Kalyanpur
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
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