ME travel to Sri Lanka up 50pc

Unawatuna Beach ... attractive

SRI LANKA has been a key holiday destination for Middle Eastern travellers in 2004.

Tourist arrivals data from the Sri Lankan Tourist Board show a 55.2 percent change from January to June over the first six months of 2003 (3,341 visitors in versus 2,153). Travel from the Middle East showed the highest percentage increase in this period over the traditional key markets of Western Europe and Australasia.
SLTB director general S Kalaiselvam said, “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. The country has long had Arab links – so there is easy access to both mosques and halal food.“
Added Emirates Holidays West Asia Pacific Rim manager Jyrki Nilson, “Mideast travellers are looking for new destinations and Sri Lanka has a great mix of luxury hotels, natural wonders, pristine beaches and sights for families and leisure customers.”
Besides Emirates’ 25 weekly flights, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Air Arabia have direct flights to Colombo. SriLankan Airlines has introduced thrice-weekly operations to Bahrain this summer and plans to grow its Dubai-Colombo service to 34 flights and is also planning two more weekly services from Kuwait.