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Record-Breaking Surge in Tourism arrivals in Sri Lanka

• 160,184 tourists arrived from India from January to 5th June 2024

Surat, 14th June, 2024: Sri Lanka Tourism is intensifying its promotional strategies towards Indian travellers by highlighting the country’s diverse tourism offerings to key markets in India by hosting a series of B2B roadshows and networking evenings in Indore, Vadodara, and Surat on the 10th, 12th, and 14th of June 2024. To attract more tourists from Madhya Pradesh & Gujarat, the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) and Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) are organising these B2B roadshows to promote Sri Lanka as a year-round destination for all segments of tourists. These events will showcase Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, diverse attractions, resilience, and growth, to strengthen ties between Sri Lanka and India.

Under the leadership of Mr. Harin Fernando, Honorable Minister for Tourism, Lands, Sports, and Youth Affairs, the delegation is led by Mr. Krishantha Fernando, General Manager of Sri Lanka Convention Bureau along with over 40 stakeholders from the tourism sector. The delegation comprises Destination Management Companies, (Leisure and MICE) leading hotels & resorts, homestays, tour operators and other service providers from Sri Lanka. The industry stakeholders will engage in B2B interactions with their industry peers in each city. The events will bring together over 200 participants in respective cities, comprised of travel agents, key figures in the industry, and media delegates. The aim is to foster stronger ties between Sri Lanka and India, creating opportunities for beneficial collaborations in the tourism industry. The significant rise in Indian visitors to Sri Lanka is identified as a key driver for the increase in tourist numbers, with 160,184 Indian tourists having visited Sri Lanka from January to 5th June 2024.

Mr. Harin Fernando, the Honourable Minister of Tourism, Lands, Sports, and Youth Affairs, expressing his gratitude towards India for its steadfast support in Sri Lanka’s journey of tourism development said, “Sri Lanka is a symbol of strength in the face of challenges, highlighting the country’s progress into a middle-income nation with strong economic indicators, which reflects the struggles overcome in the past. In 2023, Sri Lanka’s tourism sector reached a milestone with earnings surpassing $2 billion. The year 2024 is shaping up to be ever more successful, with tourism revenues exceeding $1.25 billion in the first four months. We have established a challenging goal of attracting 2.5 million tourists in 2024, and we are optimistic about its achievability since almost 1 billion tourists have arrived to date. The extension of Visa-free entry for Indian tourists is seen as a positive step to further increase visitor numbers.”
He further added “We have launched an innovative “You’ll Come Back for More”, 360- degree, global marketing campaign, to help us reach our ambitious target. Over the recent months, we have made a significant impact by showcasing our attractions and tourist destinations at major international events like Outbound Travel Mart (OTM) in Mumbai, South Asia’s Travel & Tourism Exchange (SATTE) in New Delhi, and the recently concluded Arabian Travel Mart (ATM) in Dubai. Furthermore, to emphasize the importance of the global travel industry, a roadshow was held in three cities: Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne in Australia, as well as in Mumbai, New Delhi, and Turkey.”

Mr. Chalaka D. Gajabahu, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau stated, “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 with 18% of total tourism arrivals being Indians in the past 5 months. Our focus is also on a digital campaign to attract the Indian market and a tailored itinerary for one and all. With Indian hotel investments, we are confident you will want to return.”

Mr. Thisum Jayasuriya, Chairman, Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, said, “As the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, I take pride in showcasing the advancement of our Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) sector. With top-notch venues and improved accessibility, Sri Lanka has emerged as a highly sought-after destination for corporate gatherings and conferences. The increased frequency of flights, nearly 100 per week from 9 cities in India, has made it more convenient for businesses to opt for Sri Lanka. Our successful hosting of the 3rd MICE expo in May 2024 in Bentota, southern Sri Lanka, featured over 100 international buyers from 15 countries and 113 local suppliers. India remains a key focus for our promotional efforts throughout the year, as it is the primary source of our MICE travel.”

Through dialogues and presentations, the event will highlight Sri Lanka’s breath-taking landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and warm hospitality, enticing travellers to return again and again as the beautiful island nation is set to capture the hearts, enticing repeat customers with promises of unforgettable experiences. Participants were treated to a showcase of Sri Lanka’s diverse offerings, from pristine beaches to ancient temples, signalling a new era of tourism excellence for the island nation.

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